Nigeria’s health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu last Wednesday told the media in Abuja that the country’s first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) victim had contracted the virus when treating a Liberian Patrick Sawyer at a Lagos based hospital.
(READ MORE: World Bank sets emergency fund to curb Ebola)
At least five other medical practitioners who were involved in the treatment of Sawyer had tested positive.
The ever-increasing spread of EVD yesterday saw SADC health ministers convening an urgent conference on Ebola to implement measures that seeks to protect regional citizens from contracting the deadly virus.
Addressing journalists in Johannesburg, the SADC health ministers’ chairperson Jean Kalilani noted that the region needed to accelerate its response on cholera at the same time calling for regional presidents to facilitate multispectral response interventions.
(READ MORE: Eight suspected cases of deadly Ebola virus reported in Nigeria)
Kalilani added that member countries should organise cross border consultations to facilitate exchange of information and agree on joint collaborative actions.
Among others the SADC’s health ministers’ extraordinary summit communique called on for various stakeholders such as churches, civil society, and religious groupings to help governments arrest the spread of the virus into the region.
“The main purpose of the meeting was to bring together ministers of health and key stakeholders to build a consensus on appropriate strategic actions to prevent the introduction and spread of Ebola in the SADC region,” read part of the communique.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Africa director specialising in disease prevention and control Francis Kasolo noted that while SADC had not reported any Ebola incident the actions being taken by the region where important in arresting the spread into the region.
(READ MORE: Ebola is a national emergency: Nigerian health minister)
Kasolo told CNBC Africa.com that at least 1, 000 people had died of the EVD in West Africa where the WHO was channelling much of its technical and financial resources.
Zimbabwe’s health minister David Parirenyatwa noted that the Ebola epidemic would be on the agenda of the forthcoming SADC summit set for mid-August in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls.
“I am certain as Zimbabwe takes over the chairmanship of SADC we will make sure that Ebola will be an agenda item for the summit,” noted Parirenyatwa.
Ebola virus is one of the dreaded diseases that is spread through human fluid or blood.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ (NICD) Janusz Paweska said there was need for people to implement precautionary measures even this meant forgoing some cultural norms such as kissing and hugging the deceased.
Meanwhile SADC health ministers have called for a regional fund that will be used should the virus spread into the sub-region.