Norway Gives $1m For Ebola fight

Hege Hertzberg, (first left) and Dr Magda Robalo, WHO country  representative (first right) signing the agreement with Dr Afisa Zakariah (middle)

The Norwegian government has released 6,200,000 Norwegian Kroner, approximately US$1,000,000 to support World Health Organisation’s (WHO) action plan for Ebola outbreak preparedness in Ghana.

The amount, would, among others things, be used to facilitate technical support of the WHO, guidelines for early diagnosis of suspected cases, case management, contact tracing and infection prevention and control.

Speaking at a short agreement-signing ceremony at the WHO office in Accra, Hege Hertzberg, Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, stressed the commitment of her government to support Ghana in its preparedness effort.

She said the country is the transport hub in the sub-region and therefore needs to be assisted through the WHO as it prepares to host the UN Mission on Ebola response.

The envoy also applauded the WHO coordinating role in the response to the outbreak and highlighted the importance of partnerships in tackling health emergencies such as Ebola, which has the potential to jeopardise important development gains.

Dr Magda Robalo, WHO country representative, expressed WHO’s gratitude to the Norwegian government for the support towards the fight against Ebola, especially focusing on preparedness activities in Ghana.

She said specifically, the support would help achieve effective coordination of preparedness and response activities, strengthen capacity for active surveillance, investigation and reporting as well as capacity of laboratory diagnosis.

He said the national preparedness plan which WHO and other partners were helping to implement is estimated at $3m and was therefore gratifying to note that a third of that amount had been covered by the Norwegian government.

‘In the same vein, we would like to call upon other partners to join WHO, Norway and others in providing material, in kind or other support to the government of Ghana. This outbreak threatens global security,’ she said.

On her part, the Director of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Health, Dr Afisa Zakariah, indicated that in as much as the country’s preparedness efforts were ongoing, there was the need for further support to strengthen surveillance systems, train frontline health workers in early diagnosis and case management, equip treatment centres and isolation wards and also intensify public sensitisation.

It has been six months since the WHO was officially notified of the outbreak of an Ebola virus in Guinea. The disease in the past months has spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone killing over 2800 people out of 5843 confirmed cases.

Also, Nigeria and Senegal have confirmed 21 cases and eight deaths. The Democratic Republic of Congo as at September 18, 2014 recorded 68 Ebola cases (28 confirmed 26 probable and 14 suspected) including eight health workers.

Samsung joins
In a related development, Samsung Ghana Office has donated a set of complete pack of Ebola preventive gear valued at GH¢35,000 to the Ministry of Health.

The pack of Ebola protective clothing consists of a face mask, safety goggles, disposable gloves, shoe covers and plastic apron.

Jaspreet Singh, Director for mobile at Samsung West Africa, said the corporate organisation recognises the dire effect of Ebola on the sub- region and had taken the initiative to help the ministry to prevent, prepare and combat Ebola in the country.

‘At Samsung, we are not only interested in business, but more importantly, promoting a healthy and safe environment of the people in the communities in which we operate.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri  

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