Ebola simulation exercise exposes gaps in Malawi management of disease

The Ebola simulation exercise conducted by Ministry of Health and Population in Chitipa and Karonga districts has exposed several gaps in the management of the disease in the country.

Dr Everly Banda with actors during the simulation exercise

Deputy Team Leader for the exercise, Dr. Evelyn Chitsa Banda confirmed this on Thursday in Karonga during a debriefing meeting.

Banda said one of the major challenges at Mbilima Border Post where the exercise started was lack of telephone network, saying it was difficult for health personnel manning the post to report a case to Chitipa District Hospital.

“There is very poor network at Mbilima Border Post. It took some immigration officer to go to a certain facility where the DHO was. And it had also to take some of us who were in the control room to call the DHO that there was some commotion at the border.

“Let me salute the environmental officer who received the case at the border because he was able on his own to suspect the case to be Ebola because of a good history taking he conducted,” she said.

However, Banda said there is need for Chitipa Border Post to have a proper place to treat a suspected or confirmed Ebola case as currently, the district relies on the tent to isolate contacts from the suspect.

She further noted there was hesitance among the case management team for both Karonga and Chitipa as some were not willing to go into Ebola Treatment Unit at Karonga District Hospital where the suspect was referred to.

Karonga Acting Director of Health and Social Services Dr. Phenius Mfune asked the Ministry of Health and other partners to assist the health facility with isolation rooms for the health workers and the guardians.

Mfune said it was sad to see guardians of the suspect spending a night in the corridor in fear of mixing them with others in the guardian shelter.

“We really need these facilities here, even the case management team were afraid to go to their houses in fear of spreading the disease to their family members,” he said.

Ministry of Health and Population conducted the simulation exercise to make sure the country is prepared to handle Ebola cases if the disease occurs.

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