By Mustapha Jallow
Following reports by this paper that no health personnel were spotted at two border crossing points, this reporter revisited the Amdalai border post yesterday 13th July 2014. This time some health personnel were visible.
This development comes in the wake of the life threatening, highly contagious Ebola virus that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa, after its recent outbreak in Guinea and other parts of West Africa.
At the Amdalai border post, health personnel were seen stationed at the Combined security services barricade, where they conduct tests as travellers get to the barricade. The health personnel are the first to receive the travellers. When a traveller gets to the health personnel his/her temperature would be taken by the health personnel using a clinical thermometer placed under the armpit of the traveller. The same thermometers were used for all the passengers passing through the check point. It was observed that some passengers passed without health personnel taking their temperatures. The health personnel were also not putting on gloves or other protective gears as they took the temperatures of the passengers.
After their temperatures are taken passengers are directed to a tap where they wash their hands with some sort of solution before proceeding to immigration. These measures are an effort to avoid any entry of the ebola virus into the country.
A senior security officer at the border told this reporter that they are not allowing entry of nationals/citizens from countries where Ebola outbreak has been pronounced, namely Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. He said this follows a government directive, in their effort to curb the spread of the ebola virus disease into the Gambia. In fact two Guineans were denied entry while this reporter was at the border post.
Is it safe for health personnel to be taking the temperatures of travelers without putting on gloves? Is it not possible for the ebola virus to be transmitted from the sweated armpit of one traveller to another as temperature of passengers are taken? May be there is need for a review of the mode of operation of health personnel at the borders and closer collaboration with WHO for better equipment and more technical advice will be helpful.