IN AN effort to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD), health authorities in Mazabuka have placed airstrips owned by commercial farmers in the area on high alert.
EVD or Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a disease caused by the Ebola virus that affects humans and primates.
It is a haemorrhagic fever which makes victims bleed and has one of the highest fatality rates, killing between 50 percent and 90 percent of victims, the World Health Organisation, says.
And Government has provided over 300 health workers in Mazabuka with protective clothing to handle the disease, which says WHO says has claimed over 1,000 lives in West Africa.
Mazabuka district commissioner Eugene Munyama said airstrips in the area have been rated “hot spots” because some commercial farmers regularly fly to and from Ebola-affected countries.
Mr Munyama said in an interview yesterday that Zambia Sugar Plc in Mazabuka has also been rated an Ebola hotspot because some foreigners who visit the company come from countries where the deadly viral disease has broken out.
“As a district through our health rapid response team, we have put in place stringent measures aimed at ensuring that we are on high alert for Ebola.
All airstrips are hotspots for Ebola because some farmers and foreigners from Ebola-affected countries come to our district through the airstrips here,” he said.
And Mr Munyama said the Mazabuka district health office has procured adequate protective clothing for workers.
Mr Munyama also said health authorities have reserved adequate chemicals to help prevent Ebola.
“We have spray pumps and intravenous fluids to use in case of an Ebola outbreak.
A treatment centre for suspected Ebola victims is also going to be designated,” he said.
Mr Munyama has engaged Mazabuka Municipal Council to set up a site where suspected Ebola patients can be quarantined.
And Commissioner of Prisons Percy Chato has called for stringent measures to prevent Ebola penetrating the prisons through illegal immigrants from West Africa.
Mr Chato said there are over 380 illegal immigrants in custody and some are coming from Ebola-affected areas.
“It is important that our health experts put in place stringent measures to prevent the virus from penetrating prisons because of issues of prohibited immigrants,” he said.
Mr Chato said this when he opened the Southern African Development Community (SADC) minimum standards for HIV/AIDS, TB, Hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other diseases in prisons conference in Livingstone yesterday.
He also said there is need for prisons to intensify screening before entry of inmates into the facilities.
Mr Chato said the prisons service is trying to put in place preventive measures to ensure the prison population is not affected.
He said it was no longer a secret that prisons in the SADC region are overcrowded.
He said the average incarceration rate in the region is 157 per 100,000 inhabitants and prison occupancy levels average 138 percent while Zambia is at 250 percent, thereby putting pressure on prisons and staff.
He said overpopulated prisons constitute high risk environments for disease transmission and make it difficult to provide adequate health services.
“Overcrowding reduces the quality and quantity of ventilation, lighting and sanitation for prisoners…we need to implement minimum standards rules that we have put in place to alleviate or even eradicate these problems,” he said.
Mr Chato said because of overcrowding, it is easy for airborne diseases such as TB to spread easily among prisoners.
He said high rates of HIV co-infection, as well as multidrug resistant TB, have been reported in prisons in the SADC region.
Zambia Daily Mail