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Gov't to set up secretariat for Ebola

A Public Health Specialist at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) Dr.Franklin Asiedu- Bekoe has disclosed that government plans to set up a secretariat to purposely handle Ebola cases.

He explained that in case the disease breaks out in the country, people could go to the secretariat after which they would be referred to seasoned and qualified persons to handle the case.

He made the revelation in an interview on Joy FM's “News Night” progamme, Wednesday.

Asked whether the three isolation centres which is to be set up by the GHS for treating Ebola patients had been completed, Mr.Asiedu-Bekoe confessed that they were in the process of development adding that the facility in Kumasi only needed modification.

Dr. Asiedu asserted that despite sensitization and primary education and training of local health workers, the country was expecting “specialized health workers” from the WHO to train our local health workers on handling the disease within the various districts and zones of the country.

As the nation braces itself to counter the disease from reaching its shores, there has been enormous measures put in place, one of which is the attempt to secure all unapproved routes to the country by the Ghana Immigration service.

Entry points like Aflao, Elubo, Paga and KIA have been secured to some extent with medical checks and screening for all who enter the country.

In a press statement issued by the Ministry of Communication,  government has disbursed six million cedis to help fight the disease. 10,000 personal protective equipment (PPE's) have been procured for all frontline workers in health,immigration and various agencies.

The Ebola Viral Disease(EVD) is a viral disease that kills up to 90 per cent of humans infected.

Symptoms of the disease include vomiting, high fever, headache muscle aches, sore throat, weakness, stomach pain, lack of appetite as well as presence of blood in stools and vomit.

So far the disease had swept across West African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia claiming over 1,000 lives.

As at yesterday,World Health Organization(WHO) said the death toll had reached 1,229.

However,despite all attention chanelled towards human to human mode of transmission of the disease,a virologist with the Ghana Veterinary Service,Dr. Joseph Adongo-Awuni has warned that people should be mindful of the animal to human mode of transmission.

He has therefore advised that people should not eat fruits that had already been consumed by fruit bats since they are potential carriers of the virus.

 
 

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Ghana has not taken the Ebola case as a crisis - Prof. Duodo

Director of the World Health Organization Collaborative Centre for Advocacy Training, Prof. Alex Duodu says Ghana has not taken the Ebola issue as a crisis given the lukewarm attitude government has adopted.

According to him, the public ought to be receiving detailed information about the dreaded disease from technical persons by now, but observed, that has not been happening.

In rating the level of education on the virus, Prof. Duodu said “the level of education; the level of awareness by the average Ghanaian including most health workers – on the scale of 1 to 10, I will not put it beyond 2.”

Prof. Duodu told Joy News' Elton John Brobbey: “That is how bad it is. People don't just know what to do and so they are panicking.”

He further pointed out that “by now, anybody who is technically involved in the Ebola case should be meeting at least once a day; the population should be receiving information on a daily basis; that is what we call crisis preparedness. So people are with you and so when crisis comes nobody is going to scramble because they know what to do already.”

He said the absence of in-depth knowledge about the disease among the public is “a typical made in Ghana approach.”

Adding that, though a lot of very good work is being done on the technical level, the awareness creation is poor.

Efforts by the Health Ministry and the other stakeholders have not been visible to the public and not clear to the health experts, he said.

He said “a lot of things [are] being done in a very bureaucratic way, which unfortunately makes it practically redundant.” because the media and other major players in the health sector are unaware of the measures being put in place by the government.

Moreover, he stated it would be more suicidal if the country continued to drag its feet in this direction, considering the rate at which Ebola is killing people in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

He mentioned that the three isolated units being built in Tamale, Tema and Kumasi were delaying and should there be a suspected case of Ebola, managing it would be very difficult.

“And we are taking our time as if the virus will wait for us to finish our preparation before it joins us. We pray that it never comes to Ghana; we really pray. But one important aspect of praying and everything is also preparing; praying for the worst but praying for the best,” he said.

Therefore, he called on the leadership of the country from the president through to the Cabinet, to own the process of dealing with the disease.

Ghana is expecting a team of experts from Geneva to train health professionals in the country on how to effectively manage the disease.

Foreign experts have advised that a man cured of Ebola should not have unprotected sex for seven weeks because within that time, he could still transmit the virus.

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What is the ice bucket challenge?

The internet has gone viral with videos of celebrities and other popular personalities taking the "Ice Bucket challenge" and daring three others to do the same. Here is what you need to know about it:

What is the ice bucket challenge?
It's an effort to raise awareness of ALS where participants must dump a bucket of ice cold water and then dare someone to do the same. If they can't, the alternative is to donate $100 to the ALS association

How did it start?
The ice bucket challenge went viral on social media after a US baseball player and ALS patient, Pete Frates, floated the idea of the challenge in a video on a social networking site. He got the idea from a friend

The impact
More than 1.2 million videos were shared on Facebook between June 1 and August 13. The challenge was mentioned more than 2.2 million times on Twitter since July 29, after Frates' appeal

The funds
According to the ALS website, it has so far received nearly $23 million

US baseball player and ALS patient Pete Frates who floated the idea of the challenge.

What is ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is also referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Life expectancy
About 20% people with ALS live 5 years or more, up to 10% live more than 10 years and about 5% live up to 20 years after diagnosis

 
Bill Gates brought innovation to the challenge with this video. Watch:

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KATH battle ready for Ebola

Work is underway on a holding bay at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in readiness for potential outbreak of Ebola and other epidemics.

Authorities have designated a temporry ward at the Polyclinic which is undergoing structural changes.

Head of Public Health Unit, Dr. Dennis Odai Laryea, says the hospital is adequately prepared for any Ebola threat.

The Holding Bay, when completed, will be divided into cubicles each of which will serve as treatment centre for diseases like Ebola and cholera.

Work is progressing as Chinese contractors create additional entrances to the facility which is currently housing some cholera patients.

Authorities are deploying the hospital's internally generated funds to put and equip the facility.

A stand-by team, comprising doctors, laboratory technicians, nurses, ambulance service personnel, mortuary attendants, among others, has already undergone training in care-giving.

Dr. Dennis Laryea told Nhyira Fm the hospital is battle-ready to attend to the first ever Ebola case, in the event it breaks out.

According to him, a core team has been trained to handle and manage Ebola.

“We have trained the core team and cut across all the professionals; from doctors all the way to mortuary man. There is issue of Personal Protective Equipment –we have some available as well so yes, if we should get a case, we will try within the circumstances we found ourselves to be able to make sure that there is no contamination”, said Dr Laryea.

Such conditions are best managed in special Infectious Disease Center which is not available at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

Doctors under the current circumstance have no option than to manage with the improvised facility as additional entry points are constructed as part of efforts to reduce spread of infection.

Acting Chief Executive of Komfo Anokye Hospital, Isaiah Offeh Gyimah, says an Epidemic Preparedness Committee is in place to monitor Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Under the leadership of the Medical Director, the CEO wants the committee to fully observe infection prevention and control protocols to protect themselves and patients.

Dr. Laryea wants management to look beyond the current cholera outbreak and Ebola scare in establishing the Infectious Disease Center.

While conceding there are challenges, he said health workers are poised for action, in preparation to work under the current condition.

“There are challenges. But I think that we should not throw our hands in despair because the truth is that if a patient comes today and the patient has Ebola and we don't put in the protective measures, staff can also get infected. We are doing the best we can with the little that we have on our hands."

“Any support like getting infra red thermometer, more Personal Protective Equipments and even building a purpose-built Infection Disease Unit would probably be what we would wish for”. Dr. Laryea appealed.

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Fishermen Petition Mahama

Some fishermen waiting in a queue to buy premix fuel.

The leadership of the Inland Canoe Fishermen Association has appealed to President John Mahama to relieve the Chairman of the National Premix Committee of his position.

Kwaku Nicol has been accused of myriad improprieties to the detriment of the fishing industry in the country.

He was alleged to have connived with certain unnamed people to divert several litres of premix fuel to the many unapproved landing ports and pocketed the revenue.

For instance, Mr Nicol was accused of increasing the weekly allocation of 1,620,000 litres to 2,250,000 to enhance his profit margin from the sale of the extra 630,000 litres.

According to the aggrieved fishermen, Mr Nicol has created 'too many landing beaches and also does not allow the Premix Secretariat a free hand to allocate the fuel to their destinations as directed by the sector minister.

The fishermen furthermore accused the committee chairman of bragging about his current position which he said was assigned to him by the late President Mills and that 'no sector minister can sack me.

I am in the goods books of the First Lady Lordina, so I am untouchable,' Mr Nicol was alleged to have been singing.

The fishermen complained bitterly about Mr Nicol's unhealthy relationship with them as he treats them as second-rate citizens.

'Now that the Premix Committee Chairman has realised that he has done the wrong thing by approving too many landing beaches across the country, he is now dissipating the fishermen's fund at the Premix Secretariat going round the country vetting the landing beach committees; something that he should have done as the first step before allowing them to operate,' they alleged.

The fishermen wondered why 'our government would be in power while we cannot get enough fuel to go fishing.'

'We are demoralised and if Kwaku Nicol continues to be in office until the next election period, majority of us will vote against the government, as some did in 2012.'

In a telephone interview on Monday noon, Mr Nicol denied ever setting up committees, which he indicated was the preserve for the communities.

He explained that his outfit undertook a performance audit which rather exposed certain flaws on the part of the fishermen; which he asked the Municipal and District Chief Executives to rectify.

Mr Nicol, however, conceded that some of the landing beaches such as Pownu, which is close to Akosombo and Accrate, near Sawla did not even have up to 10 outboard motors and therefore did not need regular allocation of premix fuel.

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