Ebola: Churches urged to minimise body contact practices

Churches have been asked to reduce activities that encourage body contacts such as handshakes, hugging and exchange of communion cups.

The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council says this has become important in the wake of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

The Council is asking its 200-member churches with more than 15,000 branches across the country to also conduct “regular disinfection of microphones and door handles before and after church services”.

These were contained in a statement signed by President of the Council, Apostle Opoku Onyina and Acting General Secretary, Right Reverend Edem Tettey.

The Council, as part of measures to control the disease has also rolled out a nationwide “Public Prevention Awareness Education (PPAE) on Ebola and Cholera” through its network of 200 member churches.

The Accra metropolis has been hit with a cholera outbreak that has claimed at least 40 lives so far. More than 3,000 cases have been reported so far.

The Council further directed churches to place “sanitising dispensers or handwashing dispenser at entrances or vantage points including uninals within the church premises and encourage congregation members to use them before, during and after church services”.

“While we would continue to exercise our faith in God through prayer, we also believe that knowledge and a better understanding of the disease, including the adoption of practical behavioural and attitudinal changes by all Ghanaians, are the surest ways to minimising the potential spread and impact of any outbreak, if not completely preventing it”, the Council noted.

Although an Ebola case is yet to be confirmed in Ghana, government says it is working with all relevant stakeholders to prevent entry of infected persons into the country from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, which are worst hit within the sub-region.

The Ebola virus disease that struck in March this year has so far claimed more than 1,069 lives, with over a 1,975 case reported.

Ghana has set up an inter-ministerial committee comprising of the Health, Interior, Communication, Defence and Local Government ministries in a bid to firm up strategies to fight the deadly disease.

At a meeting last Monday, the committee resolved to put up 3 isolation centres in each of the three zonal demarcations of the country – northern, central and southern – to contain spread in the event that a case is confirmed in the country.

Foreign Minister, Hannah Tetteh on Thursday advised Ghanaians to pay attention to the press notifications that will come up from time to time from the committee, as well as how the country is dealing with the issue.

Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

A highly contagious disease, it kills up to 90 percent of those it infects and is transmitted through contact with blood or other fluids of infected persons.

There are fears Ghana’s health system is not equipped enough to handle a possible outbreak. Some doctors have confessed they will run away from Ebola patients due to the non-availability of protective equipment. Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | [email protected][email protected]

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