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
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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs