The Ministry of Health has said a number of strategies have been put in place to prevent its occurrence and also contain its spread should it be reported in Malawi following the reported Ebola Virus Outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

In a statement signed by Secretary for Health Chris Kang’ombe, the ministry said it has a robust Integrated Diseases Surveillance and Response programme that provides on strategies to manage outbreaks such as Ebola and other notifiable diseases.

“At present, all our boarder entry points that are managed by our port health officers are on alert and the personnel are currently undergoing briefing sessions to understand the nature of the disease and be able to physically screen anyone who may show signs and symptoms of Ebola.

“The Ministry of health is also aware of the threat that globalization may pose to Malawi because people travel freely and fast from all over the world,” reads part of the statement.

According to WHO, the risk of travelers contracting Ebola is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. Ebola is a severe acute viral illness often characterized 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 function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus.

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days.

At present, no licensed vaccine for Ebola is available. Severely ill patients therefore require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing essential salts (electrolytes) or intravenous fluids.

‘Therefore, people need to reduce the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat and Reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community arising from direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their bodily fluids.

“We need also to avoid close physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home, regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home and people who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried,” he said.

By: Chancy Namadzunda

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