News / Africa

Critics: Malawi Is Not Prepared for Ebola Outbreak

Lameck Masina

Malawi health authorities said they are taking measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus into the country - with airport screenings of international passengers.

However, critics said those measures are not enough, noting that medical workers need urgent training on how to handle an infected person, specialized equipment is needed and public education efforts must be stepped up.

Ministry of Health officials said the airport screenings are currently done to those passengers from West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola virus - Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The government also has set up quarantine centers at the country’s two airports - Kamuzu International Airport in the capital, Lilongwe, and Chileka Airport in the commercial capital, Blantyre - for those who may have contracted the virus.

Official: No need to panic

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Charles Mwansambo, director of health services in the Ministry of Health, told journalists in Lilongwe that there is no need for Malawians to panic because the chances of them getting infected are minimal.

“I want to assure the members of the general public not to panic because Ebola is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids like blood, saliva and urine. And chances of Malawians going to West Africa and getting in touch with these bodily fluids are very minimal,” Mwansambo said.

But the chairperson of Malawi’s Parliamentary Committee on Health, Juliana Lunguzi, told VOA that Mwansambo's comments are unrealistic.

She said there is no logic in telling people not to panic when the situation on the ground shows the government is doing nothing to prevent the outbreak.

 “To say ‘don’t panic’ [is unrealistic]. Anything can happen and people go to Nigeria, especially to T.B. Joshua synagogue [in Lagos, Nigeria], where they are looking for healing. And Ebola is one [of] the diseases so we shouldn’t relax,” Lunguzi said.

“We are saying we would rather panic and let a certain group be panicking now by giving us a response that somebody is doing something so that we can see the readiness somewhere,” she added.

She said the message contained in the only press release the government has so far issued on the Ebola virus does not benefit many Malawians because “it’s in English, a language many Malawians do not understand.”

Readiness, preparations

Lunguzi, who is a nurse by profession, said her committee will soon summon government authorities to explain their readiness in terms of medical equipment for combating the possible spread of Ebola into the country.

“We know our hospitals are already having serious shortages of medical supplies and equipment. Currently, we are yet to hear if there is anything,” Lunguzi said.

“We have called several hospitals; everybody says, ‘We don’t have anything ready in readiness of Ebola.’ So we want to make sure that we meet and let the government tell us what they have done,” she added.

Jonathan Gama, chairman of the Human Resources for Health coalition of health professionals in Malawi, said Malawi is not in any way ready to contain the virus.

Gama cited inadequate medical equipment, protective wear and orientation for health workers as among the signs of the country’s unpreparedness.

“What we are suggesting is that the health workers should be trained and after training them there should be procurement of resources as Ebola demands, so that when Ebola incidences appear in Malawi we should not be taken by surprise,” Gama said.

Budgeting for crisis

But Ministry of Health officials insist that preparations are being made to prevent the spread of the virus.

Spokesman Henry Chimbali told reporters the ministry is working on a budget that would fund efforts to contain the deadly disease.   

The World Health Organization said the virus is a global health problem.

To contain the spread, some African countries, including Guinea and Zambia, have closed their borders with Western African countries hardest hit by the ebola virus.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs