Ebola, please pass over our heads

BY: Vance Azu

Usually, I do not like to join in over-flogging a topical issue, so whenever I decide to go back and discuss an issue I have already commented on, then it means the matter is of grave concern to society in general.

The threat of the Ebola disease has became a global health issue and most governments around the world are on the alert to check its spread. 

The world’s unipolar state, the almighty United States of America, has activated all its security networks and marshalled its forces to be on red alert and avert the recurrence of Ebola on American soil.

Just as America has put in measures to protect its citizens anywhere around the globe against the disease, the European Union and other sovereign states have not rested in their attempts to nip Ebola in the bud, especially when a Spanish nurse reportedly contracted the disease under very strange circumstances.

This and other incidents within countries outside Africa have drummed home the fact that Ebola is not an African disease but a global one, as espoused by President John Dramani Mahama when he addressed the 69th session of the United Nations recently.

Coming back home, our political leadership, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international agencies, has made some interventions to prevent Ebola in Ghana.

Medical and health workers have been provided with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have as well been taken through training on the symptoms and what to do and how to handle cases suspected to be Ebola.

Some of the important entry points to the country, such as the airport and the border posts, have also benefitted from the installation of equipment for screening all those who enter the country from the Ebola affected countries in the sub-region.

Moreover, the citizens have been empowered and sensitised to the dos and don’ts of Ebola.

So far, all seems to be going on well, especially when rumours became rife that cases of Ebola have been reported at some medical facilities. These have caught the attention of medical personnel and they have successively disproved these cases after the suspects had tested negative. 

It, therefore, behoves us to continue to ensure that we maintain the habits we have cultivated in recent times to avoid contracting Ebola and continue to lead healthy and hygienic lifestyles to prevent us from contracting Ebola.

So far so good, but I still think some more precautionary measures have to be introduced.

Last Tuesday, I listened to an interview on BBC where a Liberian woman narrated their ordeal ever since the outbreak of Ebola in that country.

The interviewee went on to say that the once communal life, as well as the closely-knitted family ties that they used to enjoy, has disappeared. Things have gone bad to the extent that children hardly shake hands with their parents when they return from work. She also spoke about the stigmatisation among the once cohesive community because of Ebola.

After listening to the interview, I started pondering over what would be the fate of most of us (Ghanaians) in the wake of an Ebola outbreak. How are we going to relate to our parents, children, siblings, colleagues and other neighbours, especially when we live a communal life just like our neighbours in the sub-region who have been confronted with this menace?

Well, our government has sounded the warning and made a passionate appeal to the citizenry to desist from travelling to the affected countries. We have also been urged to remain vigilant and report anybody with the Ebola symptoms to the appropriate authorities.

 Isolation centres are under construction to quarantine suspected persons with symptoms of the disease. All these measures have been put in place to save Ghana from the calamites that have befallen our neighbours — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

I, however, continue to contemplate whether these measures are enough, although we are mending some of our age old practices such as mass handshaking at funerals, church service and other social gatherings.

I believe it is time we took the bull by the horn and I expect our President to announce the suspension of some out-door events that could put the lives of our people in jeopardy.

Similarly, I think we need to seek God’s face in line with Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams’s proposal that we seek divine intervention through prayer and fasting and let this dangerous disease pass over our heads.