Bhutan’s preparedness against Ebola

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - SONAM PEN­JOR

Although the Ebola virus dis­ease (for­mally known as ebola haem­or­rhagic fever) first ap­peared in 1976 in two si­mul­ta­ne­ous out­breaks, one in a vil­lage near the Ebola River in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo and the other in a re­mote area of Su­dan.

So the cur­rent out­break in West Africa, the majority of cases in hu­mans have oc­curred as a re­sult of hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion since the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) de­clared on 8th Au­gust 2014 that Ebola is a pub­lic health of in­ter­na­tional con­cern and after that Paro in­ter­na­tional air­port has screened 13,470 peo­ple un­til De­cem­ber 28, 2014.

Out of the to­tal they had screened, 35 from Africa and three of them had flown from Ebola af­fected coun­try and one was from Sene­gal.

It’s for this rea­son that, Min­istry of Health in col­lab­o­ra­tion with World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) or­ga­nized Ebola sen­si­ti­za­tion work­shop for me­dia houses in Paro on Jan­uary 6th and 7th since it is a na­tional emer­gency con­cern.

WHO’s Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Bhutan, Dr. Or­nella Lincetto said, “I am pretty con­fi­dent that Ebola out­break will not hap­pen in Bhutan but

for Bhutan it is most im­por­tant for Bhutan’s preparedness although it is low risk of out­break”.

Ebola, de­spite be­ing a na­tional emer­gency con­cern there is no any re­stric­tion for the trav­el­ers. The chief pro­gram of­fi­cer of com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases di­vi­sion of the Min­istry of Health, Dr Karma Lhazeen said, for the trav­ellers and traders, no re­stric­tion has been made but the min­istry will give full in­for­ma­tion that is re­quired or else to post­pone the travel or to de­fer.

Since an­i­mals are the main fac­tors, she added that if an­i­mals sec­tors have good surveil­lance sys­tem and preparedness with con­trol mea­sure than there is low risk of get­ting the Ebola. “We are striv­ing to­wards preparedness to Bhutan Agri­cul­ture and Food Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (BAFRA), an­i­mal sec­tor, en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tor and point of en­try”, she said.

While at the Paro in­ter­na­tional air­port, dur­ing the time of screen­ing of the peo­ple, de­spite be­ing in­formed, the trav­el­ers in the flight of the screen­ing at the en­try point, while com­ing back from any other coun­tries, health of­fi­cial said that they are fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties es­pe­cially with Bhutanese peo­ple since they are not very co­op­er­a­tive for screen­ing and fil­ing up the form.

Bhutan is almost done with preparedness that a to­tal of 15 lab­o­ra­tory per­son­nel have been trained on per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE), sam­ple col­lec­tion and 40 health of­fi­cial have been sen­si­tized on Ebola case man­age­ment since the health per­sonal will be the first per­son to han­dle the case and more­over about 200 air­port staff were also sen­si­tized.

It is con­cern for the coun­try since coun­try have over­seas group who works in the af­fected ar­eas of Africa. Dr. Karma Lhazeen said that although they are in the af­fected ar­eas of Africa, but they are well in­formed.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Health Reg­u­la­tion (IHR) 2005 ar­ti­cle 2 states that, to pre­vent, pro­tect against, con­trol and pro­vide pub­lic health re­sponse to the in­ter­ven­tion spread of dis­ease in ways that are pro­por­tion­ate with and re­stricted to pub­lic health risks and which avoid un­nec­es­sary in­ter­fer­ence with in­ter­na­tional traf­fic and trade.

The preparedness is di­vided into three phases and the bud­get es­ti­mated for the first phase would be es­ti­mated to about Nu. 1.2M.

Dr. Karma Lhazeen added that next phase we have to put place of screen­ing of dis­ease in en­try point, for in­stance Sam­drup Jongkhar, Gele­phu, Phuntshol­ing and Samtse, this ar­eas are ground cross­ing by the trav­el­ers.

Mean­while, the typ­i­cal signs and symp­toms for the ebola are sud­den on­set of fever, in­tense weak­ness, mus­cle pain, headache and sore throat. This is fol­lowed by vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea, rash, im­paired kid­ney and liver func­tion, and in some cases both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal bleed­ing.

So for the lab­o­ra­tory find­ings in­clude low white blood cell and platelet counts, and el­e­vated liver en­zymes.

While, the in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod or the time in­ter­val from in­fec­tion to on­set of symp­toms is from 2 to 21 days.

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