Central Region Tracking Fishermen Against Ebola

A surveillance system to track and monitor fisher folks in Central Region, who fish along Ebola affected countries in West Africa, has been instituted by Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with its partners. The move is part of preventive measures put in place to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the country through its coastal border. Mr Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, Regional Minister, who made this known in Cape Coast, said Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the coastal areas have been instructed to collaborate with their health teams to screen all fishermen who enter the country by sea. The MMDAS are also to place on high alert on the movements of such fishermen and subject them to screening. Mr Quansah made this known in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of a trainer of trainer workshop on Ebola Case Management. The three- day workshop is being attended by health personnel from GHS and teaching hospitals in Central and Western Regions. Mr Quansah said there were two instances, during which a group of people entered the country, one by boat and the other through Paga border in Upper East Region. He said all of them were rounded up and screened and are being monitored for the mandatory 21 days. He said so far speculations about some cases of Ebola in the region had proved negative, while GHS is mounting educational campaigns on the viral disease. Mr Quansah said the Regional Coordinating Council had constituted a Regional Ebola Preparedness Steering Committee, to spearhead regional integrated efforts with the view of preventing the disease and to contain the epidemic in the unlikely event of an outbreak. He indicated that there are Regional Rapid Response Teams in place which consist of technical personnel from various relevant sectors committed to the course. Mr Quansah said six hospitals have been strategically positioned to hold themselves in readiness towards any eventuality while the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Winneba Trauma and Specialist Hospital and Saint Gregory Hospital at Budumburam have been identified as holding centres in the region. He said all hospitals in the region have been urged to indentify space to serve as isolation units for Ebola. Mr Quansah called for the strengthening of infection control in the various hospitals since about 25 per cent of infected people worldwide are health workers who got infected during the course of carrying out their professional duties. “Our efforts to contain the potential Ebola epidemic in Ghana is showing preliminary signs of progress, but maintaining and extending these trends will require sustained efforts from us all,” he said. Dr Samuel Kaba, Director, Institutional Care Department of GHS, said all the 10 regions have Ebola response teams, while the country has been divided into three zones with zonal training ongoing. He said after the middle zonal team being the Ashanti Region has been trained and is in the process of training associated regions. Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions have been trained. Dr Kaba said the service would be training medical staff from neighbouring Burkina Faso, Togo, Cote D’voire and other volunteers to assist in combating the outbreak. He said even though a lot has been done so far, there is still a lot more to be done to sensitise those in the remotest on the devastating nature of the disease. He called on the private sector, civil society, religious and traditional bodies and non-governmental organisations to join the crusade against the disease. Dr Samuel Quarshie ,Director, Regional Health Directorate noted that the workshop would enhance preparedness to manage the disease as well as equip and update participants with relevant information and skills to improve their capacity for effective service delivery . This he said could be achieved through enhancing the quality of care given to clients and health workers leading to the improvement of safety. He urged the health sector to use the threat of the disease to close the gap between public health and clinical care, strengthen the country’s surveillance system and improve infection prevention and control practices. Dr Ernest Opoku, a Public Health Physician Specialist who chaired the opening expressed the need to put in place the right measures to curb the disease since it poses a huge threat to Africa.