V. A. MELNIKOV, Our sobkor in Ghana
Keywords: Ebola, virus, Ghana, ECOWAS, borders
The Ebola virus was first recorded and identified in 1976 in the area of the river of the same name in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). But so far, neither a vaccine nor drugs for specific treatment have been created. The mortality rate, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), reaches 90%. "The Ebola outbreak that is raging in West Africa is the largest, most complex and severe in the 40-year history of the disease. The number of new patients is growing much faster than the ability to treat them, " said Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, during a two-day conference that brought together about 200 experts under the auspices of the organization.1
The disease is rampant in 7 West African countries. Discovered in Guinea in February this year, the virus has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal.
The rapid spread of infection is facilitated by difficult socio-economic conditions in these countries - poverty and unsanitary conditions. In the first cases of the disease, the correct diagnosis was not established due to the lack of special test systems, strict precautions were not taken.
At the end of October this year, the number of victims of the deadly Ebola virus exceeded 5 thousand people, of which more than 500 people died in Sierra Leone. Almost 10 thousand people were infected with fever. And these numbers continue to grow.
The epidemic occurs mainly in remote villages in Central and West Africa, in the rainforest zone - until now, the fever has not affected people outside the African continent. The risk of its spread outside of Africa is small, but it is quite real, given the fact that the disease first found itself in the capitals of states where there are international airports.
The first symptoms of Ebola appear in the period from two days to 21 days after infection - more than enough time for the virus to spread through air transport. It is very difficult to diagnose the virus: the symptoms of Ebola can easily be confused with the manifestations of many other tropical diseases (malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, etc.). And to confirm the diagnosis, special tests are required, which can only be carried out by specialized virological laboratories.
Medical professionals in Africa have previously managed to stop the spread of the disease by isolating patients, caring for them in protective clothing, monitoring people who came into contact with patients, and educating the local population on how to protect themselves from the spreading virus. Health workers have learned to directly inform people from remote areas about the spread of Ebola, as many residents do not have access to radio and television. Doctors are able to isolate confirmed cases of the disease, track contacts of patients and monitor the appearance of symptoms.
The most dangerous scenario today is the gradual spread of the virus across the territory of countries already affected by it and in border areas. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is seriously concerned about this prospect, which entails a "serious regional threat", and has asked the international community for help.2
The Ebola epidemic causes more fear and horror than the spread of other viral diseases, for one simple reason: there are no vaccines or medicines that could cure this disease or prevent its occurrence - 9 out of 10 people who get sick die. The only encouraging thing is that earlier outbreaks of epidemics all-
gda quite quickly managed to contain 3.
Be that as it may, history and experience suggest that the risk of large-scale spread of hemorrhagic fever, unlike other viral diseases such as SARS and influenza, does not seem to exist at the international level.
However, the current Ebola epidemic is different. Unless resources are mobilized and the disease is brought under control, it will kill many people in Africa, and possibly beyond.
The international community is providing significant assistance in the fight against the epidemic. Back in August of this year, Russia sent a group of infectious disease specialists to Guinea. Our virologists have set up a laboratory in the country's capital, Conakry. US President Barack Obama sent American reservists to fight the fever. British military personnel are already working in Sierra Leone. They will build hospitals and maintain order.
What can you do against a deadly epidemic? Let's look at these opportunities using the example of the actions of the Ghanaian authorities.
President of the Republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama condemned the irresponsible use of unverified information by Internet users and rumors about the alleged deliberate concealment by the country's leadership of information about the spread of a dangerous virus on the territory of the state. "An outbreak of a deadly disease like Ebola cannot be left unnoticed. It is pointless to hide information about the epidemic, if it has already covered the country, " the President stressed.4
He called for the activation of various educational and information campaigns among the population, and also stressed the need for citizens to comply with the rules of personal hygiene, including the use of hand-washing disinfectants.
The President of Ghana expressed solidarity with the countries affected by the deadly virus and assured the country's population that he will use his tenure as chairman of ECOWAS to bring the disease under control.
Despite the fact that the number of citizens who went to hospitals and hospitals in Ghana with Ebola-like symptoms has already exceeded 80 people, not a single case of the disease has been recorded in the country. The Government is doing everything in its power to prevent the deadly disease from entering Ghanaian territory. J. D. Mahama made this statement during the 5th Extraordinary Meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Health, which was held in the capital of the country, Accra, from 27 to 28 August this year. 5
The purpose of the meeting was to exchange views among its participants and find the best strategy to combat the Ebola virus in the subregion, where the death toll has already exceeded 4 thousand people. Experts from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria outlined the epidemiological situation in their countries, the steps they are taking, and detailed the difficulties they have encountered in the fight against the virus.
Among the main participants of the emergency event were representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, the World Health Organization, UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), the US Embassy in Ghana, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency - JICA) , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the African Development Bank6.
The Ghanaian President said that Accra should become a transit point for sending vital medicines and personnel to the countries of the subregion affected by the virus - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. To implement this project, J. D. Mahama has tasked the Ghanaian Armed Forces to work closely with the World and West Africa Health Ogranisation (WAHO) health organizations.7
An agreement was reached between the President of Ghana and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to use the Ak-
kru as a logistics base for transporting vital cargo and medical personnel to countries affected by the virus by UN and other international organizations.
"The United Nations, in close cooperation with the Government of Ghana, should put in place a logistical framework to avoid negative impact on the country through mass preventive screening of the population and early detection of symptoms of infection with the deadly virus," the Flagstaff House Communications Bureau said in an official statement.)8.
Health officials at Ghanaian ports have assured tourists returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria that they are allowed to enter the country in accordance with WHO regulations. According to Samuel Fiafimeti, head of the Kotoka International Airport Health Service, a medical center has been deployed in the terminal building, which is in a state of constant readiness and is intended for transporting arriving passengers with obvious signs of illness to the newly built isolation center 9.
South Africa is one of the latest countries to close its borders to tourists from countries affected by the virus. Senegal has suspended flights to Guinea, while Kenya has suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The President of Ghana drew particular attention of the conference participants to the panic reaction in connection with the problem of the spread of the virus. According to him, the negative aspect that complicates the delivery of vital goods is the introduction by some ECOWAS member countries of a ban on sea vessels entering ports in combination with the cancellation of flights. Due to these restrictions, some countries ' health ministers were unable to attend the emergency event. "We must take deterrent measures, but we must not take such measures that will lead to isolation of the country affected by the disease," said John Dramani Mahama. "Excessive restrictions on the movement of people, as well as border closures, will adversely affect the economic situation in the regions." 10
In support of this view, Liberian Finance Minister Amara Konneh pointed out that government spending on the fight against the Ebola virus in the second quarter of this year amounted to $12 million (equivalent to 2% of the country's annual budget or 0.6% of GDP). According to him, the costs associated with the escalation of the population's illness will only grow. In Guinea and Sierra Leone, the budget deficit has already exceeded 3% of GDP (in Sierra Leone, in particular, it is aiming for 8%, if you exclude financial assistance from donor countries).11.
Dr Louis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, expressed support for President Mahama's position. In his opinion, the measures taken by a number of countries in the West African region contradict the recommendations of the International Health Regulations Committee in an Emergency. "Some countries have closed borders and crossing points with neighboring countries affected by the virus, banning flights to and from these countries, thereby complicating the transportation of goods and personnel," he stated 12.
The Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadri Dizaye Ouidraogo, summing up the emergency meeting of health ministers, appealed to its participants and the international community as a whole to follow the example of Nigeria, which has already transferred $3.5 million to the specially created Solidarity Fund for Saving people's Lives by the member countries of ECOWAS. "Given the desperation of our people, we must mobilize our efforts in the fight against this dangerous disease," Ouidraogo 13 said. A communique issued at the end of the emergency meeting stated that "an open border should be the norm, while a closed border should be the exception to the rule."14 ECOWAS health ministers recognized that the deadly disease Ebola poses a threat to all countries in the subregion without exception and negatively affects the economy and security of States. The meeting participants appealed to the heads and governments of countries not affected by the virus to strengthen epidemiological surveillance at all checkpoints and encourage the population of countries to actively use disinfectants for hand washing. In addition, it was considered necessary to strengthen the construction of health facilities, the creation of treatment and isolation centers.
There are no clearly defined borders between individual African countries with customs checkpoints, armed guards and a barbed wire fence. The presence of illegal border crossing routes and unapproved checkpoints makes it difficult for immigration and security officers to properly check people with possible Ebola symptoms, despite the threatening scale of the virus's spread.
A clear example of this is the" conditional " border between Ghana and Togo with 23 unapproved checkpoints, which smugglers in both countries are well aware of. 15 Journalists and photojournalists during a trip organized by the authoritative Ghanaian newspaper Daily Graphic, found in the protective barbed wire on the side of
Only a handful of immigration and customs officials met Ghanaians through a series of passageways and along a 16-kilometer stretch of the border.
The commander of the sector of the immigration Service of Ghana, Julius Gborgla, called a number of material problems that the service is experiencing. There is an acute shortage of vehicles, tents, raincoats and electric lights for night patrols. Julius Gborgla has repeatedly asked the Ghanaian Government to provide immigration officers with motorbikes, which he says would increase the efficiency of patrolling. But the request was ignored. However, the officer assured the media that, despite the existing problems, the situation in the field of border security is under control.
But for the officers of the Security Service of the Republic of Togo, the "maintenance" of illegal routes across the border has become a "gold mine". For $150, they provide assistance in illegally crossing the state border with Ghana to people who do not have a passport, including citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Gabon and South Africa.16
The situation is similar on the border of Ghana with Burkina Faso. There are about 20 unapproved checkpoints here - they are freely crossed by residents of both countries without much intervention from immigration officers. In an interview with the Ghanaian TV channel "TV 3", law enforcement officers also pointed out a number of problems that they have to face: "We don't have weapons to counter illegal immigrants. We can't fight them with our bare hands, can we? Sometimes we manage to arrest them quickly, but there may be a situation that they will unite and attack us, " one of the officers complained in an interview.17
"Not only are we not armed - we don't have vehicles to patrol the borders, so we can only make arrests and confiscate goods that are being transported illegally," a customs officer commented on the situation at the border, almost with tears in his eyes. "People involved in illegal business can quickly band together, organize an attack on us, and easily recover their property and belongings."
According to unconfirmed reports, there are also at least 40 illegal routes on the border of Ghana with Ivory Coast.
According to Helen Ajoa Ntoso, Minister of the Volta region, which shares a border with the Republic of Togo, the response to the situation would be to increase the number of armed immigration and security personnel, as well as strengthen the border with a high fence with barbed wire. Such measures, in her opinion, can encourage law enforcement officers to do what they know best-to protect borders and keep illegal migrants and smugglers at a distance from them.
GHANAIAN LEADERSHIP TAKES ACTION
In mid-August of this year, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama instructed the Ministry of Finance to allocate an additional $ 6 million to prevent the Ebola virus from entering the country. sedi * to the previously allocated 900 thousand sedi. They should go to the purchase of 10 thousand pieces of personal protective equipment for health workers who risk their lives by interacting with infected patients and patients. The order was issued by the President of Ghana following a meeting with an interagency group, which decided to consult with religious leaders, local authorities and other stakeholders in order to ensure universal awareness of the deadly virus in Ghana.18
According to the Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Dr. Omane Boam, during the meeting, the issue of the scope of insurance liability for medical personnel who may be exposed to infection in the course of their official duties was also considered. "If a case of infection is detected, appropriate measures will be taken to protect health workers and the public," he stressed.
The Ghanaian Government has imposed a moratorium on all international conferences that may pose a potential risk of the virus entering the country. The duration of the moratorium is three months, starting from August 4 this year. The exception was the aforementioned meeting of ECOWAS Health Ministers in Accra.
"No Ghanaian should travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea unless absolutely necessary," Hanna Sirwa Tette, Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said during a press conference.19 Commenting on the decisive measures taken by the President and the government in the fight against the Ebola virus, she added that the ban on travel to the countries covered by the deadly virus also applies to the national football team of the Republic "Black Stars".
For a month and a half, starting in August this year, construction of special isolation centers continues in three regions of Ghana, the need for which may arise in the event of an outbreak of the virus.
* Sedi is the currency of Ghana. 1 sedi - $0.28 (editor's note).
Ebola 20. To speed up the construction of each of them, the government has additionally allocated GHS100 thousand. Part of the allocated funds will be used to train the staff of medical institutions and purchase the necessary equipment for them.
The authorities ' efforts are supported by non-State structures. The financial leasing company with limited liability Dalex-a non-bank financial institution of Ghana-initiated the creation of the" Ebola Education Fund", whose funds will be spent on conducting an educational campaign among the population. To finance the program, the country's leadership hopes to attract private capital.
According to Dalex CEO Kenneth Kwamina Thompson, the potential consequences of further spread of the Ebola virus, which has already led to a weakening of the Ghanaian economy, can be severe. "This is not the time to wait for a reaction from the government and the Ministry of Health. The time has come to provide financial support to private sectors, implement national programs, connect radio and television, put up posters, send SMS messages to subscribers - and all this in order to make the country's population as informed as possible about the outbreak of a deadly disease. " 21
The Ghanaian non-governmental organization World Vision Ghana has allocated 405,000 copies of educational and informational literature containing information about Ebola for the country's health service to improve public awareness.22
IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN GHANA
Most of the educational institutions and colleges of the capital of Ghana have started the start of the educational process in normal mode. The Ministry of Education is conducting a campaign among schoolchildren and students to explain the rules of conduct in the event of an Ebola outbreak. According to the head of the department, prof. Naana Jane Opoku, "the spread of the virus poses a threat to institutions that attract foreign students" 23. There are 953 international students enrolled at The State University of Ghana alone.24
The Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Dr. Edward Omane Boama, noted that about 6 thousand students are being trained in Ghana. international students from about 100 countries around the world, including those where the Ebola virus is recorded. According to him, the established team of employees of the Ministry of Defense, the Immigration Service and the armed Forces of Ghana jointly monitors the approved and unapproved routes of crossing the country's border 25.
In mid-August of this year, the Ghanaian Minister of Defense, Dr. Benjamin Coonbuor, paid a working visit to the International Peace Center named after him. The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC), the Military Academy Training School (MATS), and the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Ghanaian) to learn about the challenges of the country's main institutions in terms of ensuring their security. students. For example, the Command and Staff College annually accepts students from such West African countries as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso. The college administration, taking into account the development of a deadly disease in several countries of the sub-region, may not start recruiting international students this year. However, in this case, the college will lose $300 thousand in profit, and if money cannot be raised from other sources of funding, the question of its closure will be raised 26.
The Ministry of Education of Ghana has issued a directive that requires all educational institutions in the country to submit their proposals on the measures they will take if a deadly disease enters the country. These programs are subject to review and approval by the inter-ministerial commission on Ebola control.
experts in the field of healthcare.
The list of educational institutions that have complied with this directive includes: University of Professional Studies, University of Energy and Natural Resources, University of Health and Allied Sciences, All Nations University, and Blue Cross University (Blue Crest University). However, many university and college leaders ignored this directive.27
According to the Director of Public Relations at the State University of Ghana According to Stella Amoa, the university's management has developed "risk assessment questionnaires"in order to exclude cases of Ebola among students and employees28. Mandatory, these questionnaires provide, inter alia, answers to questions about where the student came from, where he spent his holidays, whether he or his surroundings had symptoms of Ebola, etc. The university has established an emergency commission for cases of fatal diseases among students and staff. Special attention is paid to students from Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
According to the secretary of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Perry Fosu, a local radio is installed on the territory of the educational institution for online introductory broadcasts about the procedure for students in the event of a fatal illness. In the building of the Regent University College of Science and Technology (Regent University College of Science and Technology), there is an isolated room designed for preventive examination of students and staff: "If we have the slightest suspicion of infection with a deadly virus, we know what to do," said Emmanuel, Deputy head of the Public Relations Department. Kuayi 29.
* * *
Using the example of the actions of the authorities and non-State structures of the Republic of Ghana, we can see that the countries of West Africa are taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of a deadly disease that originated in the rainforest zone. Nevertheless, the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is assessed by the World Health Organization as an emergency and requires the efforts of the entire international community, given that the medical equipment of the countries of the epidemic's spread is too weak to cope with this danger.
For a long time, the world's pharmaceutical industry did not develop a vaccine against a dangerous virus. However, the epidemic does not only threaten the lives of those infected. It causes an unbearable burden on the health care and, in general, the economy of the affected African countries, due to the cessation of civil aviation flights, reduced tourism, border closures, panic among the population and other things.
Undoubtedly, these circumstances, as well as the risk of spreading the deadly fever beyond the African continent, should attract more attention and active participation of the world community to the current situation.
1 Reuters, 12.09.2014.
3 http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014 - 07 - 27/eboIa-requires-a-team-africa
Nuamah S. 4 President says rumours of Ebola irresponsible // The Ghanaian Times. 20.08.2014.
Nuamah S. 5 Ghana chosen as base to co-ordinate Ebola campaign // The Ghanaian Times. 29.08.2014.
6 Report of the Health Experts Meeting.
Asare Boadu K. 7 Ghana to serve as centre for Ebola medical supplies // The Daily Graphic. 29.08.2014.
8 Ghana to become hub for UN supplies to Ebola countries // The Daily Graphic. 02.09.2014.
9 IATA acts to contain Ebola in West Africa // The Business and Financial Times (BFT). 25.08.2014.
Asare Boadu K. 10 Op. cit.
11 Ebola outbreak threatens to inflict broad economic ramifications in West Africa from credit outlook // The Business and Financial Times (BFT). 18.08.2014.
12 http://www.afro.who.int/en/media-centre/pressreleases/item/ 6929-who-urges-countries-to-avoid-actions-that-compromise-ebola-response-efforts.html
Nuamah S. 13 Op. cit.; Asare Boadu K. Op. cit.
Asare Boadu K. 14 Deploy health experts to Ebola affected countries // The Daily Graphic. 30.08.2014.
Ahiabor G. 15 Ebola virus: What is happening at the Ghana-Togo border? // The Daily Graphic. 14.08.2014.
Asare G.E. 16 Besides the Ebola scare // The Daily Graphic. 06.09.2014.
18 Government releases GHc6m to fight Ebola // The Ghanaian Times. 15.08.2014; Asiedu W.A. President releases GHc6 million to fight Ebola // The Daily Graphic. 14.08.2014.
Asare K. 19 Ghanians warned against travelling to Ebola areas // The Ghanaian Times. 15.08.2014.
Glover B.H. 20 Tema hospital Ebola isolation Centre nears completion // The Daily graphic. 01.09.2014.
Ardayfio R. 21 Financial body initiates Ebola Education Fund // The Daily Graphic. 23.08.2014.
Appia S. 22 World Vision supports Ebola campaign // The Daily Graphic. 04.09.2014.
Kale-Dety S. 23 Ministry prepares schools against Ebola // The Daily Graphic. 03.09.2014.
Bokpe S.J. 24 Legon students to fill Ebola forms for hall admission // The Daily Graphic. 05.09.2014.
Smith-Asante E. 25 Govt orders protective gear for health workers // The Daily Graphic. 20.08.2014.
Agyeman N.K. 26 Ebola scare to affect revenue generation // The Daily Graphic. 16.08.2014.
Kale-Dery S. 27 5 varsities present plans on Ebola to Education Ministry // The Daily Graphic. 01.09.2014.
Bokpe S.J. 28 Op. cit.
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