In fighting Ebola, we can’t be complacent
In Nigeria and Senegal, the outbreak of EVD has been officially declared over.
Nigeria has received commendation from far and near for the manner in which it has overcome the disease.
For countries like Ghana where no cases have been officially declared, the threat may seem even more distant, as the days go by with no downturn in the county’s luck.
The price of victory against Ebola certainly demands unending vigilance, as proven in Mali.
This was confirmed to Ghana News Agency (GNA) by Mr Kenneth Kwamina Thompson, Chairman of “One Ghana United against Ebola campaign in an interview.
Following the first Ebola death, Mali managed to trace all who had come in contact with the carrier and placed them under quarantine. Three weeks later, it held a ceremony to mark not only the release of those under observation, but the end of the threat.
Sadly, in the wake of that celebration, more people lost their lives to Ebola. This should not have been the case.
Mr Thompson cautioned countries that have had and/or continue to record infections, that the public education efforts should be in tandem with efforts by public health institutions to test, quarantine and control the disease with dispatch.
He said although case mortality has subsided, there is no excuse for complacency.
“Every African life is invaluable and we must not let up until the threat from Ebola no longer hovers over and all of us. As with Ebola, so with any of the challenges we face,” he said.
Mr Thompson who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Dalex Finance and Leasing Company Limited, one of the leading non-bank financial institutions in the country said through the Ebola Education Fund and One Ghana United Against Ebola campaign platform, his outfit had expressed commitment to lead the public education efforts by the private sector.
“Through diverse media and channels, we are putting information in the hands and minds of Ghanaians, with the sole purpose of ensuring that Ghana stays free of Ebola, open for business and focused on its many challenges without another, preventable one.
“When we do put up banners, it is to keep the fight going, rather than to announce a premature end. This is how we must fight. This is how we will win. This is why we cannot afford complacency.
“It will not be over because a banner says so; it will only be over when every last man, woman and child know how to prevent infection and is actively pursuing such a course. And we are not quite there yet,” he said.
Mr Sammie Eddico, Ghana’s Ambassador to Switzerland has urged the global community to redouble its efforts at combating the EVD, which is gradually threatening basic human rights.
“We must all work around the clock to combat the disease in the nearest possible time. Everybody is at risk, and a global effort is therefore the only way out,” he said.
Mr Eddico, who is also Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the UN, World Trade Organisation and other international organisations in Geneva and Vienna, told the GNA.
He said: “The Ebola disease goes beyond a health problem but is rapidly becoming a threat to social, economic, political and to the security of states not only in the affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone but the whole West African sub-region.
Mr Eddico said the Ebola disease could, create the condition for discrimination and stigmatisation.
In Guinea growth projections from 2014 have been revised downwards from 4.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent; In Sierra Leone from 11.3 to 6.6; and in Liberia, previous forecasts of 5.9 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product has now been revised to 1 per cent.
President John Dramani Mahama warned at the United Nations, that no nation is immune to the threat.
“We in Ghana must take it even more seriously. While we continue to urge our public health officials to remain ready and vigilant, those of us in the corporate world and the public advocacy institutions must also do all we can to keep Ebola in the minds of the …public.
“All offices and public spaces must carry educational material on the disease. It should not be too much to ask for all religious services to have a minute or two sessions to educate people about the disease.
“And it should not put us off our ‘small chops’ if at our weddings, funerals and parties, the Master of Ceremonies has a few words of advice on the virus. When we face a threat this big, nothing is too much,” he said.
Ministers of Health and Finance of Ebola-affected countries, international organisations and development partners recently adopted measures to strengthen systems of health in Ebola-affected countries.
It has been established that “People in Ebola-affected countries are dying – not only from Ebola but also from other causes – because the majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola.
“A health system has to be able to both absorb the shock of an emergency like Ebola, and continue to provide regular health services such as immunisation and maternal and child care,” says Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, World Health Organisation (WHO).
As next steps, the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, invited governments to convene meetings at the national level, with key partners, to develop country specific plans. These plans should clearly identify needs in terms of health workforce, infrastructure and materials, and how to further engage communities.
Let’s all continue the daily fight against EVD by joining in the crusade and in shouting the mantra: Ebola, A Luta Continua! Ebola, A Luta Continua!! Ebola, A Luta Continua!!!
by Francis Ameyibor