AS the government warns and calls for alert following an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and recently reported in neighbouring Uganda, countries which neighbour Tanzania and lined with porous borders, and where their people also interact at the grassroots without formal procedures, it is important that thorough education be mounted.
Speaking in Mwanza Region recently during her tour of one of the Ebola isolation centres as part of the national preparedness measures, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu was recorded to have called upon members of the public to be on the alert, right!
However, it is important also that the thorough education first from the grassroots’ population should start with village leaders up the hierarchy with close supervision of health experts and community health workers, who reside with majority Tanzanians in border sides of the country.
If this is not done, chances of the public being confused and hoodwinked by quack doctors and herbalists as well as traditional doctors would arise with claims that they have remedies for the disease once it erupts.
It should be noted that correcting and preaching the truth otherwise in the vacuum, would be an uphill task like the scenario in DRC, where some Ebola patients were being removed from quarantined camps to the traditional doctors homesteads, who were believed to have super-magic to cure them.
The same warning should be against self-styled Preachers in robes that it is a criminal offence to campaign and hoodwink the public that one has a divine call to intervene once the disease erupts.
Though Tanzania has never reported any case of Ebola, but it was not immune from the disease due to cross-border interactions. It is good that the minister came out to alert the public on the disease banking on a say that forewarned is forearmed.
“Because of this situation the entire country is at risk and the government will continue educating members of the public about the disease and preventive measures.”
It is good when she said that the minister has directed all regions and councils in the country to strengthen the integrated disease surveillance and response system and provide weekly reports on time and involve various stakeholders in regions and councils in setting up various strategies of combating the disease.
Besides this, she said: “We have already distributed sets of 3,500 personal protective equipment for the health staff through Medical Store Department Zonal Offices, but following the recent threat we will provide 4,000 more sets that will be distributed to communities and all Regional and District Hospitals as preparedness measures,” she said.