Use of unapproved drugs part of Ghana Ebola strategy – GHS reveals

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says use of unregistered interventions to fight the deadly Ebola disease is part of government strategy to fight the virus.

Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Kyei Faried, revealed at a special media briefing on Ebola Thursday that, Ghana has already put in a request for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to supply the country with some of the unapproved medicines.

Governemnt maintains it is ready to respond to a possible outbreak of the disease. An inter-ministerial committee made up the Health, Interior, Defence and Local Government Ministeries, is spearheading efforts to control the disease if Ghana records its first case.

Dr Faried however noted that procurement of unregistered interventions was not at the fore of the country’s Ebola strategy since only countries with confirmed cases are being supplied with the drug by WHO.

WHO last week gave the green light for the use of unapproved drugs to fight the deadly Ebola disease.

WHO came to the decision after a consultative meeting with experts from across the world on whether it was ethical for such unapproved drugs to be introduced to fight the disease that has gained global attention.

WHO said due to the particular circumstances of the latest outbreak of the disease, if certain conditions are met, it would be ethical to use drugs although their efficacy are yet to be clearly established to “save lives and curb the epidemic.”

“One thousand serums have been sent to countries that have a confirmed case and the production will come more frequently within six months”, Director General of the GHS, Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, who was also at the media briefing said.

Dr Faried, who is head of the Ebola Case Management Team, said currently the WHO was giving preference to countries with confirmed Ebola cases in the distribution of the unregistered serums to treat the disease.

“No traditional medicine has been known to cure Ebola”, he said, urging caution among citizens who may jump on to promises by false herbalists to cure the disease.

So far ZMapp, developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc , is the only known experimental drug that has successfully treated a confirmed Ebola case.

American doctors, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were saved by the drug after they came down with the virus in Liberia. Until then the treatment had never been tried before on humans.

Ebola has so far killed about 1,069 persons mostly in Africa since renewed outbreak in March this year.

The courge of Ebola is spreading quickly within Africa and as far as the Middle East.

Symptoms of the Ebola virus, which Dr Faried said have the potential of “distablising a country, shows up 2 to 21 days after infection.

Early symptoms include: high fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, weakness, stomach pain, lack of appetite as well as presence of blood in stools and vomit. Story by Ghana | | George Nyavor | [email protected]

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