Malawi govt need K280m for Ebola preparedness -officials

Malawi government has said there is a need of about K280 million to fully prepare for any Ebola outbreak in the country.
Head of the Public Health Institute Dr. Augustine Nthambala and his deputy  Dr Matthews Kagoli disclosed that the Ministry of Health will require about K280 million to establish isolation facilities in the designated major hospitals of Queen’s Elizabeth, Kamuzu Central and Mzuzu respectively.

The official said the isolation health facilities in the major hospitals would enable health workers to properly handle cases of Ebola disease if there were reported outbreaks in the country.

Kagoli said currently Ministry of Health with support from WHO has designated and prepared central hospitals as treatment centers in case there is an outbreak and all district have rapid response teams on the same.

Member of Paerliament David Bisnowaty is helping with protective wear and test devises
Member of Paerliament David Bisnowaty is helping with protective wear and test devises

“Currently, we only have one infrared thermometer, we need enough patient supportive care, build isolation facilities and expand our lab capacity,” he said.

They assured that authorities are taking measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus into the country – with airport screenings of international passengers.

Health Officials further say there is no vaccine and treatment available for Ebola and that people should avoid direct contact with infected persons.

Malawi has not registered any cases of Ebola since the disease started in the West African hit countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director for Malawi, Dr Eugene Nyarko said
although in some countries there is air travel ban, the measure is not effective as some might think.

“Air travel is low risk for Ebola virus transmission, there are a lot of ways in our communities, families and even in public places that one can be infected,” he said.

The Ministry of Health and WHO said they organised  the workshop to impart proper awareness messages on the Ebola disease to journalists to ensure that people are well informed of the origin and spread of the disease.

But Jonathan Gama, chairman of the Human Resources for Health coalition of health professionals in Malawi, said Malawi is not in any way ready to contain the virus.

“What we are suggesting is that the health workers should be trained and after training them there should be procurement of resources as Ebola demands, so that when Ebola incidences appear in Malawi we should not be taken by surprise,” Gama said.

Gama cited inadequate medical equipment, protective wear and orientation for health workers as among the signs of the country’s unpreparedness.

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