Zimbabwe well prepared for Ebola

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A United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC- Zimbabwe) expert says the country has good health facilities that can manage Ebola in case that it is detected in the country.
The deadly virus has wreaked havoc in West and Central Africa.
CDC Zimbabwe’s Ebola Response Team recently went to Sierra Leone to assist in the management of the virus.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the death toll from the Ebola epidemic has reached 4 922 out of 10 141 recorded infections, with three West African countries accounting for most of the cases.
WHO said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have reported 4 912 deaths out of 10 114 cases.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s state of preparedness on the Ebola outbreak has been branded as worrisome by some aid agencies.
For instance, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has said the state of preparedness of local hospitals in case of an outbreak of Ebola is worrying.
ZADHR claimed that the majority of public health facilities are underfunded.
In an interview with The Patriot after returning from Sierra Leone, CDC Ebola response team leader Dr Peter Kilmarx said Zimbabwe has good health infrastructure essential in the Ebola emergence response.
He said limited health facilities in Sierra Leone was one of the major challenges hindering the control of the disease.
“Zimbabwe has a commendable health emergence response strategy that is critical in the management of epidemic diseases such as Ebola,” he said.
“The country already has good health infrastructure in place crucial for proper coordination, operations and logistical arrangement in case of Ebola emergence.”
Dr Kilmarx however, said despite the commendable emergency response strategy in the country, there was need to continue upgrading and boosting the system to ensure that less management interruptions will be experienced in case of an outbreak.
“With the threat of Ebola and how it can spread, there is need for the country to continue boosting the current system through training of more health officials on the disease management,” he said.
“There is also need to acquire more Ebola management equipment especially the screening machines that help to detect the infected people to be able to avoid and control infections.”
The United Nations agency said the virus, has now reached Mali through a two-year-old girl who died last Friday, and now threatens Ivory Coast, having infected people virtually all along its borders with Guinea and Liberia.
The WHO has declared Nigeria and Senegal who were also affected by the virus as now Ebola free.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Paul Chimedza said the country has boosted the Ebola screening process at all ports of entry to ensure that the virus is detected before entering the country.
He said the government has also been receiving a lot of support from the corporate sector through donations of equipment needed in the control of the virus.
“We have a very oiled system of dealing with Ebola in the country, but naturally we will continue to upgrade and improve it,” he said.
“We want to reduce the chance of Ebola coming to Zimbabwe.”
Chimedza said the country was focusing on increasing awareness of the disease in the country to boost the infection control process.
He said awareness campaigns would correct misconceptions about Ebola being spread through the social media.
“We are not satisfied with Ebola awareness in the country, information dissemination is still a challenge for our emergency preparedness,” he said.
“People are abusing the social media by spreading falsehoods about Ebola stories in the country.”
“We are now working on having a robust infection control mechanism.”
The deputy minister said the spread of falsehoods about Ebola had a negative impact on the country’s economic development.
“There is no confirmed case of Ebola in Zimbabwe at the moment,” he said.
“It is almost impossible for government to hide the outbreak of Ebola.
“We do not conduct Ebola testing in Zimbabwe, the process is done in South Africa that means we will not be the only one knowing the results and makes hard for us to make it a secret.”
Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer, and the outbreak has hurt the economic growth that has been raising living standards in the region.
According to WHO, signs and symptoms of Ebola are a severe acute viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver malfunction, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus.
Ebola, just like HIV and many other diseases, can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is two to 21 days.

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