In a video summit on Wednesday the leaders of the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Italy said the raging Ebola pandemic was the most serious international public health emergency in recent years and the international community needed to do much more and faster to check the calamity.
The first outbreak of this deadly disease took place in 1976 near the river Ebola in Zaire now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and others intervened immediately and effectively to limit the number of victims to 284 with 151 deaths.
On Thursday the WHO reported some shocking figures—the number of cases in the West Africa Ebola outbreak will top nine thousand this week. As of October 14, there have been 8,914 Ebola cases and 4,447 deaths reported. On Tuesday the WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General in charge of the operational response to the Ebola outbreak said 95-percent of the cases were reported from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. He said there were about 1000 cases a week now but warned it could soar to between 5000 and 10,000 cases a week by December this year if not effectively checked.
The disease has now also spread to the United States and Spain. In Sri Lanka while not getting overly alarmed we cannot be complacent and need to be prepared for any possible Ebola cases here.
The Government and the health ministry while making people aware of the implications and the complications, need to also strengthen the health services, the surveillance and monitoring procedures at the international airports and ports. Sri Lanka also needs to be aware that our neighbour India has close connections with West Africa and if the disease spreads to India then it will be only a matter of weeks before the alarm bells ring in Sri Lanka.
A large number of Indian investors including telecom firms have set up branches industries and factories in Africa. About 5000 live and work in West Africa while there are about 40,000 Indian workers in Nigeria and other African countries. Besides this around 10,000 African students attend Indian universities. Last month the Indian government postponed the biggest-ever India-Africa summit scheduled to be held in New Delhi in December. Officials said this was done on the advice of the WHO and the African Union.
The people of Sri Lanka also need to be aware that hundreds of Sri Lankan security forces are working with United Nations troops in African countries including Sierra Leone. Medical scientists say Ebola though not being infectious is intensely contagious and a person who even touches the sweat or other body fluids of a victim could contract the disease. The Sri Lankan government needs to begin special training of doctors, nurses and other paramedical staffs in treating Ebola patients while one or two special hospitals need to be identified and equipped for the isolation and care of such patients with high-tech laboratory facilities to diagnose the disease.
Unfortunately most government leaders and other politicians appear to have fixed their gaze on the upcoming Presidential or Parliamentary elections. As a result they are not giving sufficient attention to Ebola prevention and surveillance, but they need to know that if there is an Ebola outbreak there will be more people in hospitals than in polling booths.
While the WHO and medical scientists have still not found an effective vaccine or drug to prevent or cure Ebola, Sri Lanka’s online Homoeopathy specialist Joe de Livera says he believes the homoeopathic remedy Eupatorium Perfoliatum 200, which has cured more than 300 dengue patients, could be tested and used for Ebola patients.