Ethiopia, a step ahead of Ebola virus

A half-day orientation workshop on Ebola virus disease outbreak preparedness and response organized by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) took place yesterday here in Addis Ababa.

According to the Ministry, the workshop was organized to orient health workers on the Ebola virus disease surveillance case detection and reporting, risk factors, clinical signs and symptoms as well as precautions to be taken for infection prevention.

Over 200 health workers from government and private hospitals, NGOs, health centres, health bureaus and sub-cities in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian Airlines Clinic attended the orientation. Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Japan Embassy also attended the workshop.

Opening the workshop, WHO Representative to Ethiopia Dr Pierre M’pele-Kilebou said: “We need to make every effort to be well-prepared for this public health emergency. We don’t have to wait for Ebola.”

Following the outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Ebola was declared to be a public health emergency in West Africa by the WHO Director General in July 2014, and countries with close travel and contact with affected countries were advised to strengthen preparedness and surveillance. The Ministry organized the orientation workshop taking heed of this declaration and also considering the fact that Ethiopian Airlines has flights to and from the affected countries.

Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal, illness that kills up to 90 per cent of infected persons. It is one of the world’s most infective diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients. In the current outbreak in West Africa, 50-70 per cent of those infected with the disease have died._

Moreover,_as part of enhancing the preparedness measures, the Ministry has developed a preparedness plan, designated an isolation unit and pre-positioned Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by its front-line staff in high risk situations. The Ministry and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) in collaboration with its partners have planned to conduct similar orientations and training in all states.