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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More