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Opinions of Monday, 4 August 2014

Columnist: Bolus, Mercy Adede

Ebola outbreak warning to fellow Africans

As current news global media says, there is no vaccine or cure for the Ebola virus. The report highlights that fatal in up to 90 percent of cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The disease has been characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and unstoppable bleeding from the areas such as the eyes, ears, and nose.

Reports says the Ebola, virus is transmitted through contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. Health officials are warnings people to not touch Ebola patients and to avoid burial rituals that require handling the body of an Ebola fatality.

In a country like Ghana where there is no washing basin in many public toilets and some old latrine still being used in homes and villages makes the spread of this virus – and any virus more likely. Hand shaking is part of our culture however many people do not routinely wash their hands after handshakes and go on to eat finger foods. Others do not even wash their hands after visiting the toilets and still go on to selling cooked foods for example kenkey etc. Let’s reflect on what is happening right now in the majority of our open markets. Where one could see cooked foods, raw meat and vegetables displayed side by side at the local market. Everyone is busy focusing on their business plans without thinking on the basic hyiene factors.

However no one dares challenges practices which are not accepted and can be detrimental to our lives. Health education on basic hygiene is limited and the media, particularly radio and TV’s are not using prime time to raise the awareness Ghana’s needs.

Could these areas be the targets for public health education in targeting markets, tro tro stations erc. with serious campaign on media and post boards instead of these churches so called pastors marketing themselves for profit?

Recently I attended a funeral after service refreshment whilst in Ghana and everyone was told to wash their hands in one large bowl and no one challenged this until I refused to take part. This is a disaster and an invitation for spreading diseases.

Should we allow our traditions to overcome commonsense e.g. hand washing protocols too?

Hand washing is not preached in schools and churches enough and other public places yet is a way for the remission of the Ebola virus. Some restaurants and chop bars have dubious hygiene. Hygiene needs to be strictly enforced, with clean water and soap always available.

Would it be helpful to start preaching about the Ebola virus in all schools and colleges. The Ministry of Education and Health has key role to play in sending leaflets to targeted areas in order to raise awareness to prevent the spread of this evil virus in Ghana. Perhaps even giving out free gloves in hospitals, markets, schools etc is an option.

Most of Ghana’s sewers systems is none existent and this would be another time to state that we need to have all our sewers covered.

The Public health department have a significant role to play in this to stop the spread the spread into Ghana.

The facts are it is the responsibility of everyone including Mayor, chiefs, and leaders in communities work closely together to safeguard lives. Local leaders need to assert themselves in rallying their communities and calling the shots to force the Government to stop the spread of the devilish virus which is mimicking a common flu-like symptoms. As already mentioned can lead to external hemorrhage from areas like the eyes, gums and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

As I read on the news that the head of World Health Organization and West African leaders have announced a response plan with earmarking $100m for the Ebola. Should the first short objectives be compulsory hand washing simple at all cost put in place in all catering and school and churches.

It is however reassuring that although the Ebola virus kills up to 90% of those affected; there is chance of survival if early treatment is given in time. It is not very contagious and basic hygiene is enough to drastically reduce secondary transmission, only those caring for victims need extreme measures.

As Ghana is surrounded by many neighboring borders we should be thorough in giving guidelines to border controls to prevent the spread into Ghana. By just strengthening our readiness in preparedness to Ebola we could stop it spreading. A cedis worth of prevention is worth a 1000 spent on clearing up.

Plan of action: Tough decisions-

Ghana must consider banning all airlines from all the infected countries for the next 3 months.

Introduction of use of disposable gloves for dealing with passengers at all points of entry, and at clinics and hospitals.

All public toilets and schools must have hand washing basins – AND soap and water.

Walk in free clinics for all in villages and towns to identify infectious disease at first opportunity.

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