The Ministry of Health has outlined measures it plans to take to prevent an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Ghana.
Ebola, a deadly illness that kills 90 per cent of its victims, has already killed over 600 people in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, prompting fears among Ghanaians that it is only a matter of time before the disease hits Ghana.
At least three suspected cases of Ebola in some hospitals in Ghana, which triggered widespread fear and panic among the citizenry, turned out to be negative, after tests at the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research in Accra.
Faced with growing calls for tougher action to counter the Ebola threat, the Health Ministry announced at a media briefing Thursday that it had activated a system “for screening all passengers, especially from countries that have recorded cases.”
According to the sector Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, the move is intended to ensure that people infected with Ebola are not allowed into the country.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah said Ebola treatment centres will also be set up in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale to cater for the infected, in the event that the disease somehow finds its way into the country.
The Minster disclosed this as he threw light on a three-pronged strategy of Risk Communication, Social Mobilisation and Health Education, which he said had been developed in response to the Ebola threat.
He said epidemiological and laboratory surveillance in humans and animals had also been put in place.
“Case management, logistics, security and financial resources, coordination which is why the inter-ministerial team comprising the Ministries of Health, Communications, Defence, Interior and Local Government and Rural Development has been set up,” he said.
The Minister added that ongoing public education on the Ebola disease had been intensified, while frontline staff at various health facilities nationwide as well as officials at the country's border posts had been sensitised to identifying suspected Ebola cases.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah went on to add that the disease surveillance system in Ghana had been placed on “high alert through intensification of viral haemorrhagic fever surveillance, the field officers are on the alert to pick, package and transport specimens to the lab for confirmation.”
He said health facilities across Ghana had been directed to set aside holding rooms or isolation facilities for suspected Ebola cases.
The Minister gave the assurance that his outfit was prepared to confront and contain the disease if it showed up in the country, adding that Ebola situation in West Africa had “strengthened our preparedness and response to possible EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) in Ghana.”
He also pledged the government’s commitment “not renege on our efforts to protect the people of Ghana especially our health workers who are at the fore front of this battle against Ebola Virus Disease.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people, and severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.
During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients, the organisation noted.
Source: Daily Graphic
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