Sarjo Camara Singateh
The director of health education and promotion directorate, Mr Momodou Njai, has stated that the ministry of health and social welfare and the government is doing everything possible to protect the people of this country from the Ebola virus.
He made these remarks at his offices at the Kotu central medical stores premises.
He stated that they are committed to the fight against the Ebola Virus that has emerged in the West African-region since February 2014.
He said Ebola, which was discovered in the African continent in 1979, is not an air borne disease; that it can be contracted through body fluids, blood and touching dead bodies of infected patients without protective gears.
Mr. Njai urged everybody to encourage people to be washing their hands with soap. He advised that people should report any sign of fever, bleeding both internal and external, headache, joint pain to the nearest health facility for rapid response. “Everybody should be on the watch out, there is no cause to alarm,” he said.
He said health workers in the country are trained on how to collect samples, but the samples are analysed and tested in Dakar.
He said they received protective gears and information materials from the world health organisation on how to handle a corpse, how the health worker should protect himself or herself, etc. He added that UNICEF is also supporting in creating awareness by training chiefs and villagers on Ebola and social mobilisation in various regions of the country.
Mr. Njai said the President donated some items like reagents, laboratory test kits and personal protective gears to help in the fight against Ebola.
He said they held a training of trainers’ session and are coming up with further training.
He noted that they received a mobile Laboratory Van from the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to facilitate the transportation of samples to Dakar in case of any possible detection or suspected case.
He said the van driver was also trained. He noted that this mobile laboratory Van is for Guniea Bissau, Senegal and the Gambia for referral of samples to Dakar, the only world health organisation (WHO) recommended reference laboratory in the Sub region, where results could be ready within 24 hours.
On the preparedness of the Ministry, he said Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital has already put in place an isolation centre where people can be kept or quarantined if they have a case.
The director of health education and promotion said recently they have introduced a ‘wash hand with soap’ procedure at all the border posts for all passengers entering the Gambia; collection of medical history of persons entering The Gambia, their country or community of origin, their place of residence in The Gambia, their phone numbers and so on, so that whenever the needed arises they would be able to track them.
He gave assurance that public health officers are on the ground working with other security officers at the border post 24 hours daily even before the Ebola outbreak to handle any possible health issue.
He further stated that at the airport similar operations are in place, noting these include the use of a screen and thermometer to check the temperatures of passengers coming into the country.
He remarked, “We are reinforcing our surveillance system and strengthening our preparedness for the fight against Ebola. Everything is in place, we are aware and measures are in place to protect and prevent the country from the deadly virus.”
He concluded that preparations to protect the country are at high gears.