Play watchdog role to avert Ebola incidence in Ghana

Ghana has so far been spared any case of the deadly Ebola virus although other West African nations like Guinea and Sierra Leone are still struggling to deal with it.

Fears that a US citizen who had just returned from Guinea could be carrying the virus were allayed when the Ministry of Health announced that although the patient had died, test results for the Ebola virus proved negative.

This development, according to Dr Asante-Darko, a consultant for the New Crystal Hospital, although reassuring should also be seen as a wake-up call on the health authorities to be vigilante.

He says, this is especially important because relations and acquaintances have returned from some of the affected countries.

Dr. Asante who was speaking in an interview, advised that people should look out for the signs and symptoms of the Ebola infection from the individual and immediately report to the nearest hospital if they suspect the person of having contracted this deadly infection, adding that it is better to err on the side of safety bearing in mind that presently there is no definitive cure for this infection.

Some of these signs and symptoms include, but not limited to, extreme body weakness, redness of the eyes and mucosal membranes, difficulty in swallowing, headaches, bleeding into the skin and rashes all over the body except in the face.

He outlined some of the strict precautionary steps that both homes and hospitals should follow if they have the least suspicion of thisdeadly infection. These include isolating infected individuals, practicing barrier nurse techniques such aswearing appropriate gowns and gloves whilst attending to the patient, proper sterilization and disposal of all equipment used for treatment of the patient, proper burial procedures for victims of the Ebola virus infection, that is, no washing or touching of corpse but rather putting them into body bags and burying outside the city or more appropriately by cremation.

Dr Asante-Darko, who with the Takoradi branch of New Crystal Hospital added that since Ebola can be spread through the air, in the event of an outbreak, it will be important for pastors and heads of religious organizationsto discourage their members from such activitiesas waving ofhandkerchiefs in a crowded environment such as church gatherings and also at rallies and crusades.

More than 400 people have died in what has now become the worst Ebola outbreak in history.Most of the deaths have been in Guinea but there are increasing number of cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Series of meetings have already being held to discuss and chart a way in dealing with this virus that has a fatality rate of 90%. The World Health Organization (WHO) hosted an emergency meeting in Ghana earlier this month on the outbreak of the virus in the West African sub region.

Health ministers from the three affected countries joined officials from neighboring Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Senegal, as well as Uganda, DRC, Gambia and host Ghana for the meeting.

The countries agreed to commit to better surveillance in order to detect Ebola cases, enhance cross-border collaboration, improve engagement with local communities, and provide closer cooperation with the WHO and its partners.

The health minister also recommended setting up a sub-regional control center in Guinea to coordinate technical support.

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