Malawi labs cannot detect Ebola virus – Officials

Malawians should be praying that the viral disease, Ebola which has claimed several lives in West Africa does not reach the country as our health systems cannot totally contain or detect it, medical experts revealed in Blantyre.

A presentation on the Ebola virus to the District Executive Committee for Blantyre by the District Health Officer (DHO), Dr Owen Malema on Wednesday disclosed that the country’s health facilities do not have effective equipment to contain the situation.

“Tests for the Ebola virus cannot be done in Malawi. Our laboratories are not up to the level that detects this virus. We will have to send the sample to South Africa if we suspect a case,” disclosed Dr Malema.

Ebola crisis: Malawi labs cannot detect the deadly Ebola virus
Ebola crisis: Malawi labs cannot detect the deadly Ebola virus

He said Malawi is still in preparatory phase to minimize the risk of transmission should the virus be detected in the country but does not have the full kit needed.

“We have the basic things like groves in our facilities. We are stressing on infection prevention like washing hands each time one finishes handling a patient but this is not enough should a case be found,” the DHO lamented.

The doctor however, stressed that the news about Ebola in West Africa should not cause panic but should make Malawians take precautionary measures.

The District Commissioner for Blantyre, Atananzio Chibwana said lack of a laboratory was a challenge as that showed there was no diagnostic facility in the country.

“This is not a simple issue but our message should not cause panic. Our stretched porous borders will not prevent people with the virus to enter into the country which will be a challenge to contain,” Chibwana said.

Currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for Ebola but hospitals provide supportive treatment where they provide pain killers and fluids among other necessities.

As of August 4, 2014, reports by the World Health Organization indicated that a total of 1,443 cases were reported in West Africa of which 782 died from this disease while 661 got well.–Reporting by Brenda Nkosi, Mana

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