Non visible presence of health personnel at two Border posts How safe is this in controlling Ebola?

By Sailu Bah, Mustapha Jallow and Kebba Jeffang

As the highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus is uncontrollably Customs and Immigration post at Amdalaispreading and killing nearly one thousand victims in three countries in the sub-region, people in The Gambia are genuinely anxious to know what is being done by the country’s health authorities in ensuring that this epidemic is kept at bay from entering the country. This general concern among the population had prompted these Foroyaa reporters to visit the two posts at Amdalai/Karang and Ker Ali/ Kerr Ayib at the borders of the Gambia and Senegal to observe whether people entering the country are being screened to identify and control suspected Ebola cases.

Visiting the Karang/Amdalai border yesterday, Sunday, 10 August 2014, travelers were seen entering The Gambia after going through the formalities at the customs in declaring their goods and the immigration in registering their entry. However, there was no visible presence of health officials doing either strict or random inspection or screening of all those who were entering the Gambian side of the border.

The same situation obtained at the Kerr Al/ Kerr Ayib border posts were travelers were freely entering the Gambia without hindrance as there was no sign of health personnel engaged in any routine inspection.

When the officials were asked at both entry points, they confirmed that health personnel are yet to be assigned there for the purpose of controlling Ebola.

Foroyaa can confirm that there is a strong presence of some nurses at the Misra village border post screening travelers coming from Casamance, Sourthern Senegal, into the Gambia.

However, at Giboro, the reporter was told that a nurse is posted there but is stationed at the health centre inside the village and do come to the border from time to time to check on incoming travelers.

However, given that the movement of people from one place to the other is identified as one of the sources that is rapidly spreading the Ebola virus in the affected countries in the sub-region, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, people in the Gambia are expressing concern regarding the need to put in place effective measures aimed at controlling the borders and preventing the virus from entering the country.

Although Senegal, the only country that surrounds or shares border with the Gambia, has not yet reported any confirmed case of the virus within her territory, but is this enough guarantee in protecting the country from this deadly virus.

Notwithstanding, the Director of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health has been assuring the population that all the necessary measures are in place and that there is no cause for alarm.

Foroyaa will however contact the health authorities to enquire why there is no visible presence of officials at these two border posts.