State Ready for Ebola – Katema

THE Government is ready to handle the Ebola virus in an event that it spreads to Zambia and has set aside enough funds to combat the deadly disease, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Joseph Katema has said.
Dr Katema said the Government had also constituted a national rapid response team with all key stakeholders, including his ministry, those of Health, Community Development, Mother and Child Health and would be spearheaded by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU).
Speaking at a joint media briefing yesterday in the ministry’s boardroom, Dr Katema, who is also chief Government spokesperson, said the Government was ready to contain the Ebola virus in an event that it broke out.
“As Government we are ready to combat Ebola once it breaks out. Let me clarify that we have not banned travelling but we are saying that all should be screened. Our systems are in place countrywide, an indication we can handle the disease,” Dr Katema said.
The minister said care providers and border authorities at all major points of entry had been oriented on Ebola with all necessary information and materials developed to educate the general public on the dangers of the disease.
He said Zambia was lucky that it already had the Epidemic Preparedness Committees (EPC) in place in all the districts tasked to handle any epidermics in the country, including Ebola, unlike other countries that had to assemble them once faced with any disease outbreaks.
Dr Katema also appealed to citizens to ensure that they reported all prohibited immigrants in the country, as well as the Immigration Department to monitor all foreign nationals entering Zambia.
He said the Ministry of Health had assigned ambulances to be stationed at all major points of entry, namely, Kenneth Kaunda, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and Mfuwe International airports.
The minister said Zambia had porous borders, hence the need to also put ambulances at Kasumbalesa, Nakonde, Mpulungu, Chirundu, Katima Mulilo, Victoria Falls, Kazungula and Mokambo.
He said the Ministry of Health had also directed all hospitals in provinces to hold regular clinical meetings on Ebola to raise more awareness and ensure that 24 hours surveillance was conducted at all busy points of entry.
Dr Katema urged the media to avoid publishing alarming articles on Ebola but ensure that they played a pivotal role of spreading preventive measures and educative information that would build the nation.
He said the media should always verify information and data with the Ministry of Health and other relevant authorities to avoid negativity, and be careful with interpretation of statistical data and avoid sensational reporting.
The Press briefing was attended by DMMU national coordinator, Patrick Kangwa, Dr Constantino Malama from the Ministry of Health, Dr Nathan Kapata from the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services director for Press and Media Development, Isaac Chipampe.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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