Health News of Monday, 11 August 2014
Ghana’s Minister of Health, Dr Kweku Agyemang-Mensah, says three Ebola isolation centres for the entire country will be completed in two weeks.
The isolation centres are part of strategies government has put in place to fight the Ebola scourge that has hit West Africa since March this year.
The centres are expected to be fitted with technical and personal protection equipment to deal with the situation in the instance of an outbreak.
Also, government has resolved to improve medical screening at the country’s points of entry.
These came to light after a closed-door inter-ministerial crunch meeting of the Health, Interior, Communication, Defence and Local Government ministries Monday at the Flagstaff House in Accra.
“We also reviewed the work done so far and we are convinced that we’ve managed to do a lot of work to strengthen the surveillance system. At the moment what we need to do is to make sure that the frontline workers are trained and well equipped," the Health Minister told Joy News.
He also acknowledged the need to bring agencies such as the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) on board to fight the deadly disease that has claimed more than 900 lives in the West African sub-region.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah said they also resolved at the meeting to decentralise efforts to fight the disease across all ten regions.
He noted that the decentralisation process is important “so that the inter-ministerial committee will be duplicated at the regional level and also at the district level so that we have all these players working together in concert to make sure that we are able to take measures to control this Ebola.”
All of these efforts, according to the Minister, will be guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), during periodic assessments.
The Minister also revealed simulation exercises will be conducted in the coming days to test the readiness of specially trained doctors.
The simulation exercises are expected to bridge gaps that may be inherent in the country’s Ebola fighting strategies.
Head of the Disease Surveillance Department of the GHS, Dr Badu Sarkodie, who was part of the meeting, also told the media that as part of the Ebola strategies, the country has been divided in to three zones – northern, central and southern zones.
The three isolation centres will cater for each of these zones.
Meanwhile, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has called for calm amid growing misconceptions about Ebola virus and fears of a possible outbreak in the country.
There have been a number of tests at the institute over cases suspected to be Ebola, but they have all proven negative. The Institute recently confirmed the tests conducted for blood samples of four persons feared to have contracted Ebola have proved negative.
The Director of Noguchi, Professor Kojo Koram in an interview with Joy News’ Francisca Kakra Forson called for more education for the public and health workers.
"Especially the health workers, we need to douse the panic a bit," he said.
Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.
A highly contagious disease, it kills up to 90 percent of those it infects; it is transmitted through contact with blood or other fluids of infected persons.
There are fears Ghana's health system is not equipped to handle a possible outbreak. Some doctors have confessed they will run away from Ebola patients due to non-availability of protective equipment.