07 Aug 2014 14:10pm
WINDHOEK, 07 AUG (NAMPA) Health ministers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have committed to training health workers in aspects of Ebola response in order to address the prevention and control of the deadly virus.
The commitment was made during the SADC health ministers' one-day emergency meeting on the virus held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday.
A communiqué issued by the SADC Secretariat in Botswana on Thursday said the meeting decided to mobilise relevant government sectors and community, religious and political leaders to work together to increase awareness and understanding of the Ebola situation by communities in order to ensure optimum preparedness and response.
Health ministers also decided to identify and commit additional domestic financial resources to support outbreak preparedness; organise cross-border consultations to facilitate exchange of information, and agree on joint collaborative actions.
They have decided to strengthen surveillance, case finding and detection, reporting and contact-tracing, and to share information on the Ebola virus with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a timely manner.
The other decisions taken during the meeting include building and strengthening International Health Regulation (IHR) core capacities, especially those needed to respond to serious public health events and adhere to these regulations; and improve community information and communication in matters related to the Ebola epidemic, respecting the different socio-cultural contexts; and enhancing awareness and promoting community participation in preventive, curative and health promotion interventions.
The health ministers in addition decided to identify health facilities to be used during the outbreak that have to be equipped with all appropriate equipment based on WHO guidelines.
According to the WHO, the Ebola virus (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. It has no vaccine, causes severe muscular pains, fever, headaches and in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
Fears that it could spread to other continents through air travel have been growing, with European and Asian countries on alert, alongside African countries outside the Ebola crisis zone.
Namibias Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi also attended the meeting which brought together 15 SADC ministers of health and key stakeholders to build a consensus on appropriate strategic actions to prevent the introduction or spread of the Ebola virus in the SADC Region.
The emergency meeting has provided a forum for the region to share technical experiences on Ebola so that the region can remain vigilant and come up with a common understanding regarding the containment of the virus in case of an outbreak; and to agree on a strategy for accelerated operational response.
Deputy Permanent Secretary Dr Norbert Foster; the medical superintendent of the Windhoek Central Hospital, Doctor Sara Shalongo; Dr Gordon Cupido, a healthcare practitioner specialising as a physician at the Katutura Intermediate and Windhoek Central Hospitals; and Deputy Director of the Epidemiology Department in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Clementine Muroua also attended the emergency meeting.