By Cecil Mensah
The Minister of Communications and Information, has given hints that Ghana could ban commercial flights from countries that have recorded high numbers of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), if the situation in the sub-region escalates, to protect Ghanaians.
This announcement comes at a time Liberia has closed all its schools, and the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, have had to declare a state of emergency yesterday, cancelled a trip to Washington and deplored troops to quarantine Ebola victims, as death toll has hit 729; the worst-ever in West Africa.
But Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, said the flight ban was at the consideration stage and if the need arises, the decision would be taken by the Ghanaian government in consultation with the Ministerial Committee setup to fight the possible outbreak of the disease in the country.
Dr. Omane Boamah, who is a medical doctor by profession, gave this hint when he inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Committee in Accra yesterday in preparedness for a possible outbreak of the Ebola disease, which has been traced to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was
first record in that country in the 70s.
Ghana is yet to record its first case, as reports of possible cases, have turned out to be false so far.
The Minister said that government was keenly following the progression of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the sub-region, particularly from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone and would not renege on its effort to protect the people of Ghana, especially all health workers in the country.
The Minister of Communications and Information, urged Ghanaians to be on the lookout for people with intense pain, excessive diarrhea, coupled with fever and report them to the nearest designated health centre in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale etc.
The disease, according to experts, is spread through close contact with infected person’s body fluid such as vomits, urine and toilets.
The government is entreating all institutions to minimize mass gatherings that would necessitate the convergence of individuals from different places in the sub-region
On his part, Minister for Health, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah said, Ghana was prepared to fight the disease that is fast spreading in the sub-region.
He announced that the setting up of the Inter -Ministerial Committee, is to monitor the spread of the disease in the country.
The Inter-Ministerial is made up of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with support from World Health Organization (WHO), Noughuchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Telecommunication Chamber.
The Minister for Health, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee said, Ghana’s response plan include, risk communication-social mobilization and health education, which is a major tool in public health.
Others are epidemiology and laboratory surveillance, both in humans and animals, case management, logistics, security and financial resources, as well as coordination among all sector agencies.
According to him, the WHO report says that a total of over one thousand two hundred cases have been reported with more than half dead.
He continued that people get infected on a daily basis, and fifty new cases have been diagnosed each day, on the average in the past weeks,
Not only have Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, recorded the EVD cases, but also Nigeria has confirmed a case of the disease in a traveler from Liberia, who unfortunately died when he collapsed at the airport upon his arrival in Nigeria.
“Many of us are aware of the recent Ebola scare in our country which has helped strengthen our preparedness and response to possible EVD in the country”, he posited.
He said, frontline staff at health facilities and ports of entry, have been sensitized to identify any suspected cases, as well as a system to screen passengers, especially from countries that have recorded EVD cases.
He added that Ghana was at this point procuring a pre-positioning Personal Protective Equipment for the various points of entry to check the temperature of people entering into the country.
The WHO yesterday announced a US$100 million emergency plan to treat and eradicate the Ebola virus.