How pre­pared are we ?

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

T he Min­istry of Health has al­ready brief the stake­hold­ers about the ways to keep Ebola virus out of the coun­try over the last two weeks. The of­fi­cials from the depart­ment of civil avi­a­tion, Druk Air, Bhutan Air­lines, Bhutan Agri­cul­ture and Food Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity and depart­ment of Im­mi­gra­tion was brief by the health min­istry of­fi­cials about the pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures re­quired at the Paro In­ter­na­tional Air­port . Paro air­port has been in­stalled with two in­frared cam­eras to de­tect high fever amongst the pas­sen­gers en­ter­ing or leav­ing the coun­try. The pas­sen­gers if found with high fever will have to go through ex­am­i­na­tions.

The Ebola virus causes an acute, se­ri­ous ill­ness which is of­ten fa­tal if un­treated. Ebola virus dis­ease (EVD) first ap­peared in 1976 in two si­mul­ta­ne­ous out­breaks, one in Nzara, Su­dan, and the other in Yam­buku, Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo. The lat­ter oc­curred in a vil­lage near the Ebola River, from which the dis­ease takes its name.

The cur­rent out­break in West Africa which was no­ti­fied in March 2014, is the largest and most com­plex Ebola out­break since the Ebola virus was first dis­cov­ered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this out­break than all oth­ers com­bined. It has also spread be­tween coun­tries start­ing in Guinea then spread­ing across land bor­ders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The most se­verely af­fected coun­tries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health sys­tems, lack­ing hu- man and in­fras­truc­tural re­sources, hav­ing only re­cently emerged from long pe­ri­ods of con­flict and in­sta­bil­ity.

It is said that fruit bats of the Pteropo­di­dae fam­ily are nat­u­ral Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is in­tro­duced into the hu­man pop­u­la­tion through close con­tact with the blood, se­cre­tions, or­gans or other bod­ily flu­ids of in­fected an­i­mals such as chim­panzees, go­ril­las, fruit bats, mon­keys, for­est an­te­lope and por­cu­pines found ill or dead or in the rain­for­est.

Ebola then spreads through hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion via di­rect con­tact (through bro­ken skin or mu­cous mem­branes) with the blood, se­cre­tions, or­gans or other bod­ily flu­ids of in­fected peo­ple, and with sur­faces and ma­te­ri­als (e.g. bed­ding, cloth­ing) con­tam­i­nated with th­ese flu­ids..

Var­i­ous mea­sures like the train­ing of the crews as how to han­dle the case inside the air­craft and de­vel­op­ment of pro­to­col s to be filled in by the pas­sen­gers are put in place by the health min­istry. The mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the Paro ar­rival lounge at the old ter­mi­nal and dis­tri­bu­tion of pro­tec­tive gears to the of­fi­cials at the air­port are some of the other mea­sures. Fur­ther an in­fec­tion con­trol will be put in place in Paro , Phuentshol­ing and Sam­drup Jongkher hos­pi­tals .

As the virus seems to be pos­ing a global alarm and so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy proved fu­tile. As a na­tion with lit­tle tech­ni­cal knowhow we need to cau­tion our cit­i­zens to be more care­ful as we can­not af­ford Ebola in Bhutan.

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