Ebola: Vigilance needed


HEALTH and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa could have ruffled some feathers after urging a halt to travel to Nigeria for spiritual healing by locals, but his advice is very sound in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola has killed at least 1 445 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia since the first case was reported in March.

There is no cure for the disease that kills up to 90% of its victims and the outbreak has been described as the worst in history.

The affected West African countries are battling to control the outbreak and this has become an extra burden for health systems that are already underfunded.

It is difficult to fathom such an outbreak in Zimbabwe given the difficulties the country had in dealing with easily manageable water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Parirenyatwa’s fears are not misplaced following reports that at least 50 Zimbabweans had travelled to Nigeria the previous week to visit prophets in that country.

Popular televangelist Temitope Balogun “TB” Joshua has thousands of followers in Zimbabwe.

They include top politicians such as former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and some government ministers.

There are also thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans who visit the Synagogue Church of All Nations’ healing sessions in Nigeria every week.

However, it is important that such visits are put on hold until the outbreak is under control in West Africa. This is because Ebola spreads very fast and infection of one Zimbabwean would pose very serious challenges.

Zimbabwe, like many countries, has already put in place measures at points of entry to screen visitors from affected countries and the vigilance is a step in the right direction.

Such emergencies call for tighter control at points of entry that are known to be very porous.

Some of the affected countries happen to be conflict zones hence there is a number of their citizens travelling down south to seek refuge and it is such people that would need to be screened.

The adage prevention is better than cure rings true in this scenario.