The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) last Friday concluded a staff sensitization program at its head office on the deadly Ebola Viral Disease (EVD).
The three day sensitization program was, according to Edward Amissah Nunoo, the Deputy Chief Executive of the NHIA, in-charge of Admin and HR, meant to inform staff of the Authority on “preventive tips and what to do should the disease find its way into the country.”
According to the NHIA, the second phase of the sensitization exercise will be held for district and regional offices of the Authority dotted all over the country. This, the Authority says is particularly important regarding the number of people NHIA staff interact with on daily basis.
A member of the Ebola National Sensitization Program, Dr Emmanuel Dzotsi who facilitated the sensitization exercise commended the leadership of the NHIA for the gesture in getting their staff informed on the disease.
He emphasized throughout the sessions that people do not have to panic about the disease. According to him, an import step in the control of the disease is to keep calm while you undergo treatment.
“Remain calm, understand the disease, get information and even if you get the disease, you will know what to do,” Dr Dzotsi stressed. He added that “fear and panic have caused the spread of the disease in the affected countries, because in that fear and panic state people forget the simple tips on what to do.”
Dr Dzotsi mentioned that “symptoms of the disease start two to twenty-one days after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches.” He added that typically, vomiting, diarrhoea and rash follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys.
Around this time, he said, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally.
Dr Dzotsi emphasized that though bleeding is among the symptoms of the disease, “bleeding without fever is not Ebola. Fever is key in determining whether it is Ebola or not.”
The Ebola virus was first isolated in 1976 during outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) and Southern Sudan. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. As of August 26, 2014, 3,069 suspected cases resulting in the deaths of 1,552 have been reported.
The first case in Senegal was reported over the weekend.
The disease has no clear or specific treatment. Efforts are under way to develop a vaccine; however, none yet exists. Dr Dzotsi informed that preventive measures could include decreasing the spread of disease from infected animals to humans.
He said this may be done by checking such animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered.
Also, properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as are wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease. He advised that samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.
Dr Dzotsi advised against unnecessary handshakes at funerals and other gatherings. He said the practice where people touch corpses at funerals should be discouraged since the disease could easily transmit the virus if the person died from the infection. He urged regular washing of hands and cooking meat properly before consumption, as effective ways of preventing the disease.
In conclusion, Dr Dzotsi said out of the 57 suspected cases reported by August 14, in the country, all have been negative upon laboratory investigation. He asked that suspected cases be reported quickly to forestall any possible spread.