Accra, Aug 28, GNA – President John Dramani Mahama Thursday said governments of the sub-region must jointly provide the necessary human and material support towards developing effective measures that would stem the spread of the Ebola Viral Disease.
“Yes, this is a serious crisis requiring our full attention, vigilance and urgent support and we will do everything to defeat this disease,” President Mahama, who is Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States said (ECOWAS).
President Mahama was opening an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly of Health Ministers of the Sub-region on the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in parts of the sub-region.
The meeting, which is also a sequel to the one held by experts from the Sub-region, would among other objectives help the Ministers to share views on how to boost the implementation strategies in the fight against the disease .
“Ebola has stigmatised our countries, and we have no choice but to combine our resources to fight it,” President Mahama said.
President Mahama, however, warned against the use of traditional practices that could negate and undermine the fight against the disease and called on the Ministers to put up a strong surveillance system that would ensure total compliance to the directives of the World Health Organisation and other authorities.
He said although the disease was only prevalent in four countries; Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, it had tainted the entire continent in terms of economic activities and tourism.
President Mahama explained that the economies of the affected nations and others in the continent were currently suffering from the effects of the disease as tourists who hitherto visited those countries on holidays were changing their tourist destinations for fear of the disease.
Such a development, he said, could subsequently have negative repercussions on the economies of African countries that depended on tourism and other economic interactions for their development.
Therefore, the affected countries needed support and he would use his position as the ECOWAS Chair to galvanise that support to empower them to live comfortable and refreshing lives in the coming years, he said.
The ECOWAS Chairman, however, asked African leaders not to lose sight of malaria that had over the years claimed numerous lives in the entire continent in their efforts to deal with the Ebola disease.
President Mahama said Ghana had adopted numerous workable measures to prevent the spread of the disease and gave the assurance that more attention would be provided in the coming days to ward it off the borders of the nation and other countries.
Dr Louis Sambo, African Regional Director of World Health Organisation, said the current outbreak was not only the highest in the region but had also stretched countries in terms resources and image building.
He appealed to Heads of State in the sub- Region to declare national emergencies on the disease as its repercussions were impacting negatively on the countries and the people.
However, Dr Sambo appealed to them not to impose international bans on people from the affected countries as that could stigmatise them.
The Regional Director rather advocated screening and quarantine systems at various ports to stem its spread.
Dr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, Minister of Health, called for the scaling up of measures that would help to contain and control the spread of the disease into neighboring countries.
Although Health Ministers of some of the affected countries could not attend the meeting due to flight problems, they were represented by their High Commissions and Embassies in Accra.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
So far, more than 960 people have died out of the over 1,700 cases reported, this year, from Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
Fever, body aches, and sore throat as that of malaria and typhoid, are seen at the initial stages of Ebola infection.
As the infection progresses, patients experience severe internal bleeding with blood leaking out of their mouth, eyes, ears and the vessels.
Symptoms can begin on four to nine hours or days after infection and the incubation can last up to 21 days.
Ebola cannot spread through the air like flu. It is fragile in nature so can be checked with soap solution, detergents and disinfectants.
Getting an infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, sweat, and semen.
The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.