How prepared are we ?
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.