Tanzania on high Ebola alert
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has alerted the public to take precautions following the outbreak of Ebola in the neighbouring Uganda, where at least 25 people have died and many others hospitalised.
A statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the Ministry’s Acting Permanent Secretary, Ms Regina Kikuli, named the regions to be on high alert as Mara, Mwanza, Kagera, Kigoma and Rukwa.
“The people are advised not to panic as so far we have not received any case within our borders. We advise them to report to a nearby health centre in case they come across anyone with Ebola symptoms,” reads the statement in part.
It noted that since the reports on Ebola in Uganda came out, various preventive measures have been taken by the ministry which includes issuing relevant directives to all regional and district medical officers.
The statement further noted that the directives were on how to diagnose the disease and various leaflets explaining in details the symptoms of the disease have been circulated.
“Health officials are also promoting awareness among members of the public in their localities so that they may stand a better position to report such cases. We have also supplied protective gear for health workers,” reads another.
The Ebola virus is one of the deadliest known to man, claiming the lives of two-thirds of the people it has infected so far, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The tropical virus can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea — in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.
[I][B]No medicine or vaccine exists.[/B][/I]
Of about 1,850 people diagnosed with Ebola haemorrhagic fever since the virus was first identified 36 years ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire), 1,200 have died, the UN health agency says.
Experts say the virus, despite being extremely virulent, is containable because it kills its victims faster than it can spread to new ones. The incubation period between exposure and the first symptoms varies from two to 21 days.
There are five species of the virus, of which three are particularly dangerous with fatality rates from 25 to 90 per cent, according to the WHO. It is transmitted through contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.
The virus has been known to spread at burials where mourners touch the body, but doctors and nurses have also fallen ill after failing to take adequate precautions. Even testing blood specimens for the disease presents “an extreme biohazard risk”, states the WHO, and is done only in the strictest containment conditions.
People have contracted the virus after handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines, dead or alive, in the Ivory Coast, Congo and Gabon.
The advice was floated in the National Assembly by a Special Seats legislator, Ms Rebecca Michael Mngodo (Chadema), when debating the annual budget estimates of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Ms Mngodo’s concern was seconded by Rev. Israel Yohana Natse (Karatu – Chadema), who called for immediate action on the matter. He did not mince words in explaining that the disease is a fast, merciless killer that causes profuse unexplained bleeding.
In Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has warned against making handshakes or other physical bodily contacts. Speaking on male circumcisions to curb HIV infections, Ms Mngodo said that the government did not enlighten the people at grassroots level on the benefits of the rite. She suggested that people should be enlightened on the benefits the ritual offers.
She also said that it has come to light that some men who live with the AIDS virus, who take anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) as prescribed by medical doctors, have developed nasty side effects that include developing breasts that are as big as those of women.
She asked the ministry to investigate and work on the matter. Ms Mngodo was also concerned that medical doctors at the Ocean Road Hospital run private health facilities that carry out similar operations.
She asserted that the scenario compromised the quality of their services at Ocean Road. She demanded to know the ministry’s stand on the matter. Mr Luhaga Joelson Mpina (Kisesa – CCM) spoke in similar vein castigating doctors who own private clinics.
He said that some senior doctors at Muhimbili or other government hospitals, referred patients to their clinics so that they milk them (patients) financially. Patients who are critically ill are a big deal. They are a lucrative deal to greedy, unscrupulous doctors.
Mr Mpina also rapped the government for mishandling the welfare of expert medical doctors, a situation that has prompted them to join private hospitals at home and abroad.
Source Tanzania Daily News
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