The Ministry of Health (MoH) has strengthened its surveillance system to ensure that Ghana remains free from the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD).

In line with this, majority of fishermen and travellers from countries affected by Ebola, identified as a major risk for the introduction of the disease into the country, are being monitored by the local health system.

Furthermore, cross-border interactions between Liberians in the Budumburam refugee camp and their relatives back home, which have also been identified as a major endemic risk factor, are also being actively monitored.

The Minister of Health, Dr Kweku Agyemang-Mensah, said this at a technical co-ordination meeting between ECOWAS and its partners in the fight against the EVD in the West African sub-region in Accra yesterday.

He said the returnee fishermen were incubated for a maximum of 21 days and monitored for any Ebola symptoms.

According to him, the capacity of local health systems had been built to ensure contact tracing and monitoring, in line with international best practices.

Ghana has so far recorded 131 suspected EVD cases but tests conducted at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) have so far proved negative.
ECOWAS platform

The technical meeting was aimed at creating a platform for ECOWAS Health ministers and officials working in the management of EVD in the sub-region and their international partners to deliberate on the gaps and successes of various EVD intervention measures under implementation in all countries in the sub-region.

It was also expected to revise and map out newer strategies to ensure greater results in the fight against EVD, particularly in the sub-region.

It brought together various Health ministers and officials from all ECOWAS member states, the ECOWAS Commission, officials of the United Nations and all other partners involved.

The meeting preceded a high-level coordination meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State scheduled for Accra today, January 16, during which the outcome of the technical meeting would be presented.
Red Alert

Dr Agyemang-Mensah said EVD posed a major international public health and security threat and, therefore, called on all nations to provide maximum support for the affected countries and ensure that EVD was controlled at source.

A representative of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr Carlos Brito, said in spite of the financial, technical and human resource challenges faced by the ECOWAS regional multi-sectorial operational system, it had generally chalked up some successes which needed to be improved upon.

According to him, the prevalence rate of EVD in most affected countries in the West African sub-region was reducing, though minimal in some areas, owing to various intervention measures.

Dr Brito said WAHO, in collaboration with all stakeholders, would continue to consolidate intervention measures in the fight against EVD to ensure that the target of zero new infections was attained.

The various health ministers collectively pledged to work relentlessly to ensure that the sub-region became Ebola free.

West Africa recorded confirmed EVD cases in April 2014 and in August the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

Various international intervention measures, including the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), have been put in place to fight EVD in the sub-region.

Source: Daily Graphic