While the Health Ministry has assured that the countryï¿½s healthcare system is ready to take on any threat posed by the Ebola virus disease (EVD), the Director of Health of the Atwima Nwabiagya district in the Ashanti Region Dr. Osei Somuah Samuel thinks otherwise.
He has expressed worry over the ï¿½punyï¿½ surveillance system set up by authorities to fight a possible outbreak of the disease.
He noted that the country has been too slow to learn lessons from Ebola-affected countries within the sub-region to strengthen its efforts in preventing or containing the disease should it ever record a real case.
As this deadly disease continues to wipe away many families and loved ones across the worst-affected countries in the sub-region including Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, ï¿½health experts warn that the death-toll could rise in the weeks ahead to more than 4,500 people from the 9,000 infectedï¿½.
President John Dramani Mahama, who heads ECOWAS, has said ï¿½the disease could wipe away the whole of West Africa if no immediate steps are taken to contain itï¿½.
Dr. Somuah said there should have by now exist a well-packaged documentary or informative materials circulating throughout every corner of the country at the community, district, regional and national levels -- all earnestly trying to educate and prepare Ghanaians against this dreadful disease, as well as doing away with some negative socio-cultural practices that could compound the situation.
He warned that the country could be ï¿½sitting on a time-bombï¿½ should attempts not be made to address othings which authorities have failed to act on, somewhat alluding to the statement by the President about disastrous consequences the disease threatens for people in the sub-region.
"It is not enough for the country to base its preparedness only on the availability of materials; it has to also deepen public knowledge, particularly at the community level, about the causes, symptoms, preventive measures -- including isolation distance to keep away from Ebola-infected persons.
He advised that continuous community engagement is key to prevention of the Ebola disease, cautioning that the countryï¿½s surveillance system must not be made to wait for an index case before it can act.
The Atwima Nwabiagya Health Director said this in an interview with B&FT at the backdrop of a forum held by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, in Kumasi, on the theme ï¿½Sanitation issues the key to prevent diseases, Ebola and cholera in focus ï¿½ Concern for allï¿½.
Mr. Christopher Dapaah, Vice Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs in Health in the Ashanti Region, said Ebola and cholera all health-related issues that are tied to sanitation and human relationships.
It is against this understanding that he said the Coalition is advocating at the individual level people need to be cautious in how they relate to others, and adhere to the guidance and conditions through which one can be protected from the Ebola disease.
He counselled that there ought to be a change in the way people handle their , in order that allied diseases like malaria, cholera and any other communicable and non-communicable disease can be avoided.
The Coalition also appealed for government to put in place effective structures and policies to make the country Ebola and cholera-free. He also encouraged government to as matter urgency strengthen the laws on sanitation, and also revive the sanitation courts to hold people responsible for flouting these laws.
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