Gambia: Border Surveillance in Place for Ebola Preparedness, Protection

A new digital App, Afya Data, which has been launched by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) comes as part of the varsity's contribution to the country's preparedness to combat life a threatening epidemics such as Rift Valley Fever, Ebola and other diseases that can spread from animals to humans, said SUA's Vice Chancellor, Prof Raphael Chibuda.

The Gambia's Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry Janko Jimbara, said there is border surveillance for the country for Ebola preparedness and protection, as the epidemic resurfaces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jimbara was speaking as the focal person for the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) in The Gambia, when the regional health body held its liaison officers meeting on Monday June 4th, at a local hotel in Senegambia. Jimbara noted that the regional health body is assisting the country in the disease's surveillance.

"Every country has its own preparedness plan and WAHO communicates to all countries weekly. The Gambia collects surveillance report from WAHO on a weekly basis. So we are on top of business. We know what is happening in DR Congo and there is border surveillance everywhere. This is just to ensure that we are safe," he said.

Jimbara said, the health experts are expected to meet to discuss challenges of health in west Arica and the way forward.

"One of the key challenges to healthcare delivery in the sub-region and beyond, is insufficient budgeting for the sector. So the experts will come up with resolutions that will be adopted by state parties," he told journalists on the sideline of the event.

He there is limit as to how far developing countries can go in funding healthcare in the region, which made them to look for partners.

Meanwhile, Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director General of WAHO, said ensuring optimal health of the people in the region is a permanent challenge in the face of recurring epidemic and endemic diseases.

"At WAHO, we will not relent in our efforts to surmount this challenge. Our role is to develop, promote and lead ECOWAS' health agenda, across the 15 member states," he said.

"As you know, there is a new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is a wake-up call on all member countries to always remain alert and prepared," he asserted.

He said the regional health body has already sent information to member countries, reminding them of the international disease surveillance records and regulations that they should use.

"We have helped some of the countries in terms of support for monitoring travelers at borders, who are coming in from the DRC. The whole thing is to be on our guard. We have more work to do. No more business as usual. I am confident that WAHO can count on your support in disease control and surveillance," he said.

The Liaison officers meeting precedes the 19th Ordinary Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers, due to take place on Tuesday May 5th 2018. The meetings will last for five days during which health experts, Ministers and partners, would converge on separate days, to map out solutions for effective disease surveillance, monitoring and budgeting.

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