By Amie Sanneh
The Health Ministry is informing the general public that the Ebola epidemic is still active and taking a devastating toll in the three affected West African Countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, despite remarkable global intervention to control the disease. To date, over 27,145 confirmed cases and 11,147 deaths have been reported indicating a significant increase since the disease was halted in Liberia in May 2015. This is contained in a press release from the Ministry of Health and Social through the Directorate of Health Services. According to the release, the country is worried that suspected cases of Ebola infection have now been officially reported in Bissau Guinea, posing higher risk of spreading the disease to other countries, including The Gambia.
Equally of concern, is the firm evidence that indicates widespread complacency at all levels in the country, in the misguided belief that Ebola is no longer a problem in the Subregion, it added.
“The current resurgence of Ebola Virus Disease in our Sub region and the situation in our neighborhood has warranted the National Ebola Virus Disease Task Force to declare a heightened state of alert in the Gambia with regard to Ebola,” the release states.
As a result of this, the Health Ministry has put in place these measures:
– More frequent meetings of the National Task Force and its sub-committees to direct the implementation of the national strategies to keep Ebola out of The Gambia;
– Intensify engagement of communities and interpersonal communication networks on
· Translation of EVD messages into 6 local languages and Arabic for ease of public understanding of the messages.
· Steps to ensure that the designated Ebola Treatment Centers in the Western Regions & Municipalities, LRR, URR and MRC in Fajara are brought to a state of READINESS to manage any cases of Ebola as well as prevent its spread to other areas of the country;
· o Accelerate the ongoing integrated training of health and other extension workers, community members and families on Ebola prevention and control; .
· Update and distribute throughout the country the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
· on EVD;
· Periodic simulation exercises at some designated Points of Entry and Treatment Centers.
However, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary National EVD Task Force assures the general public that it is closely monitoring the situation and will keep the public regularly updated on the Ebola situation. As of today, no case has been detected among travellers through the country’s designated Points of Entry.
As part of efforts to keep the situation under control, the Government of The Gambia through the National Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Task Force (which is chaired by the Honourable Minister of Health & Social Welfare) and its constituent subcommittees namely, Coordination, Epidemiological & Laboratory Surveillance, Case Management, Communication & Social Mobilization and Logistics & Safety have embarked on effective and efficient implementation, monitoring and supervisory mechanism geared towards achieving a state of readiness to prevent the introduction of the Ebola virus into the country and to respond speedily and effectively, as well as prevent its spread within The Gambia, should Ebola enter the country, the release ends.