Health News of Sunday, 6 July 2014
A three day emergency meeting of some eleven health ministers from the West African sub-region ended yesterday in the capital Accra. A twenty pointer consensus was reached in halting the spread of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.
Baring surveillance and control measures, the disease has been spreading in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014. As of 23 June 2014, the total cumulative number of cases reported was 635 out of which 399 died.
This makes the on-going Ebola outbreak, the largest in terms of the number of cases and deaths, as well as geographical spread. The emergency meeting was thus convened as the disease threatened regional and global public health security.
The meeting resulted in the culmination of a comprehensive inter-country operational response plan which focused on a range of outbreak response activities such as Surveillance, Communication and social mobilization, Infection control, Logistics, funds and data mobilization and management.
Deputy Minister of health for Sierra Leon, Dr Abu-Bakr Safana was positive the policy direction reached would be effective. He indicated that some of the policies are already making impact in his country which has had its share of the deadly disease.
“We have set surveillance systems including active case finding and reporting, contact tracing as well as monitoring centers across all the entry and exit points of all affected areas in the country.”
He also stated that Sierra Leon had activated restrictions on public gatherings including school closures in all affected communities.
Caretaker Minister of Health, Madam Sherrie Aryitey outlined that Ghana had taken several surveillance measures from the conference to prevent the disease from getting into the country.
Madam Sherrie Aryitey noted that the country had to strengthen its surveillance at its borders to examine especially people coming in with high fevers.
She also stressed that her outfit was going to educate communities that stay very close to Ghana’s borders on how to detect and quickly report any suspected cases.
She noted however that it wasn’t going to be easy as Ghana had a vast area of unmanned border linings.
Medical doctor and scientist from Namibia Dr Didier Mbayi Kangudie, who attended the conference, however noted that though the pointers were right, the success of the resolution passed depends on West African states, gathering enough political will at tackling the disease with urgency.
He emphasized “everything rises and falls on leadership and leadership is critical to any medical work.”
He however expressed disappointment in advanced research agencies in developed countries for showing little concern to the plight of West Africa in researching and dealing with the disease.
He believes the response has not been the most satisfactory.
Meanwhile, WHO has mobilized multidisciplinary experts to support the countries in all aspects of outbreak control.
The two-day conference was also attended by other partners including, extractive industries from the affected countries, United Nations Agencies, CDC, DFID, the European Union, ECHO, Institute Pasteur, and the USAID.