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Ebola prevention campaign heightened

By VIOLET MENGO
CHIEF government spokesperson Joseph Katema says there is an adequate system in the Ministry of Health capable of dealing with a possible outbreak of any epidemic.
Dr Katema, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that all districts have epidemic preparedness committees which can be called upon in case of an outbreak of Ebola.
“The systems are in place, the only fear is that we are fighting something that has never been in Zambia before and such fears are expected, Ebola prevention campaign heightened but we are on course in the preparations,” he said.
Dr Katema called on the media to prioritise preventive information on matters related to the Ebola epidemic.
He said information, education and communication materials have already been prepared for health personnel to teach people on how to manage the disease should it break out.
“In reporting about the disease, the media, whether private, community or public, is called upon to exercise care and responsibility, motivated by nothing else but the duty to prevent an Ebola outbreak,” Dr Katema said.
The minister also urged the public against harbouring illegal immigrants in their communities, saying this could be a possible way of spreading the Ebola virus.
Dr Kat ema sai d the nationwide Ebola preparedness and awareness campaign that has been launched will be spearheaded by the Ministry of Health.
The minister said Government has established the national epidemic preparedness committee on Ebola and reactivated provincial and district rapid response teams.
He said a national rapid response team has been constituted comprising all key stakeholders including line ministries.
“Care providers and border authorities at all major points of entry have been oriented on Ebola, and information, education and communication materials have been developed to educate the general public and care providers on the dangers of Ebola and how to prevent it,” Dr Katema said.
The minister said a national Ebola preparedness plan and budget to support the response have been prepared.
He said the Ministry of Health has assigned ambulances to be stationed at all major points of entry.
These include Kenneth Kaunda, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and Mfuwe international airports, and Kasumbalesa, Nakonde, Chirundu, Katima Mulilo, Victoria Falls, Kazungula and Mokambo borders.
In addition, all hospitals in the provinces have been directed to hold regular clinical meetings on Ebola to raise more awareness among caregivers.
And Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national coordinator Patrick Kangwa said it is important that “no stone is left unturned” in ensuring that information on Ebola reaches everyone.
Ministry of Health virologist Constantine Malama said it is important for the media to give accurate information on Ebola to allay fears among the public.

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