Bhutan’s preparedness against Ebola
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.