Govt Announces Measures Against Ebola

Government has reserved an isolated ward at the Windhoek Central Hospital to accommodate anyone suspected of contracting the lethal Ebola virus, which is currently wreaking havoc in West Africa.

A multi-sectoral stakeholders’ meeting is also slated for tomorrow between the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Air Namibia, Namibia Airports Company (NAC), the Commission of Customs and Exercise, and nearly all private hospitals, amongst others, to map out strategies on how to deal with any Ebola outbreak in the country.

“The meeting will map out strategies to describe and map out responses to prevent and manage the disease with an emphasis on early detection (vigilance), proper surveillance as well as rapid and prompt response,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Ester Paulus, told New Era yesterday.

Already, the health ministry is in the process of putting in place measures on early detection of cases and outbreaks, investigating all suspected cases with contact tracing and informing all health workers – public and private – on specific strategies to follow in dealing with Ebola.

“All health facilities in close vicinity of an immigration or entry point are to be prepared for admission, isolation and possible onward transport of any suspected case,” Paulus said.

“These facilities are further to have in place sufficient sets of personnel protective equipment for use by the relevant health care professionals.”

Paulus also confirmed that although there is no specific treatment for Ebola, medicines used to treat it such as Ribavarin, amongst others, have been procured in adequate stock.

Preventative measures taken so far include isolation of individuals suspected of having contracted the virus, while health workers have also been instructed to wear protective clothing.

Today, all Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) health ministers are to meet in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss how the sub-region will deal with any outbreak of the deadly disease.

Namibia’s health minister, Dr Richard Kamwi, is set to attend the Johannesburg meeting with technical health professionals from the country’s public and private health sectors.

Last week Friday over 100 passengers on Air Namibia flight SW722 were held in isolation for hours after it was suspected that one of them had an Ebola infection.

Chairperson of the national health emergency management committee in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Jack Vries, later confirmed that the suspected Ebola patient actually suffered food allergies after a meal he had eaten earlier.

By Monday this week, the death toll in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had risen to 887 and 1 603 more have been infected, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

This week the presidents of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone cancelled their plans to attend the inaugural US-Africa Summit in Washington DC amid the rapid Ebola outbreaks in their countries.

Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba is among those attending the Washington summit.

Source : New Era

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