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Ghana steps up preparation against Ebola

The government is stepping up efforts at containing any Ebola case that may rear its head in the country, as the virus moves to the doorstep of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Last Thursday, the Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, told a joint US and Nigerian delegation at the Flagstaff House that the first isolation centre in the country had been completed in Tema, while work on two others in Kumasi and Tamale were due for completion in due course.

And speaking at the Odwira Festival of the chiefs and people of the Akuapem Traditional Area in Akropong-Akuapem last Friday, President John Dramani Mahama said the government was activating an insurance package to motivate health workers who would battle the disease in the event of an introduction of the virus in the country.

He also said about 10,000 pieces of protective ware had been procured for health workers.

The Tema Ebola Isolation Centre has facilities such as wards, changing rooms for male and female infected persons, change rooms, a cadaver holding bay, among others.

The US and Nigerian joint delegation was at the Flagstaff House to hold discussions with the government on Ghana’s Ebola preparedness.

Convened at the instance of President Mahama, the meeting shared Nigeria’s experience at successfully containing the Ebola virus.

A confirmed case of the Ebola virus disease was declared in Nigeria on July 22, 2014 when an American-Liberian travelling from Liberia to Nigeria arrived ill two days earlier.

Although the patient died later, the 36 states were alerted and preventive measures were outlined.

Mr Bani, who represented the President at the meeting, said Ghana had taken an interest in preventing the disease and  would not downplay measures at containing it if any case was reported.

Nigerian experience

Nigeria’s Chief Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr Akin Oyemakinde, sharing his country’s experience, said to battle Ebola, the Ghana government must be seen to be in control of the situation at all times, with political commitment backed by funding.

“It engenders citizens’ confidence that the government is out to protect their lives, removes suspicion and creates compliance with directives. A state of chaos or doubt must not exist,” Dr Oyemakinde, who is also the Programme Director of the Federal Centre for Disease Control, said.

Throughout the period of the outbreak, Nigeria did not close its borders because it believed that doing so would open up illegal routes which would be difficult to monitor. 

US Envoy

In his presentation, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Gene A. Cretz, said President Obama recognised Ghana’s leadership role in the ECOWAS region, both as a good neighbour in times of others’ needs and as a hub for humanitarian and UN operations on Ebola control.

The US Embassy currently has a team working on Ebola preparedness.

Mr Cretz mentioned the strides made in preparation for any introduction of Ebola in Ghana but said such efforts would never be fully effective until the intense transmission in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea was checked.