News / Africa

Ebola Fears Cloud Jehovah's Witnesses Meeting in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's government is in a quandary as the country prepares to host a three-day Jehovah's Witnesses conference with 50,000 people from around the world expected to attend.  Some delegates will come from West Africa, where there has been an outbreak of Ebola.  Given the state of the host’s health care system, however, some delegates might be barred from attending. 

Dr. Christopher Tapfumaneyi, the principal director in Zimbabwe’s health ministry, says the country has not had an Ebola case, but that the government is aware of problems that the conference might present.  Tapfumaneyi says with the advice of the World Health Organization, Zimbabwe has started educating some medical officials about Ebola.

“They are going to ensure that if there is a visitor coming into the country who in the past three weeks has been in the three countries that have been targeted, they will look at the person closely.  If there is reason to isolate that person, that isolation will be done.  The centers have already been prepared for that," he said.

The Zimbabwean official is referring to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and that Zimbabwe is not taking chances.  The government has since recalled all its soldiers on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia following the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

The World Health Organization head in Zimbabwe, Dr. David Okello, says the southern African nation must not panic.

“The likelihood of Ebola coming here is remote," he said. "The risk is low, but we live in a global village.  Somebody could be infected with Ebola in Liberia, flies to South Africa and is here the next day.  I think my main worry is we are now dealing with, not an epidemic of Ebola here, but an epidemic of fear and panic."

Zimbabwe's health care system has been near collapse for more than a decade.  

Earlier this week, the African Union said the continent’s ministers of health would meet in September to lobby their countries to replenish the AU's Special Emergency Fund for Drought and Famine, which will also now cover public health.

The AU said the Ebola outbreak provides an impetus to speed up the establishment of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention for early detection, preparedness and response.  An early detection center is what all Jehovah's Witnesses coming to Zimbabwe will experience.

Effort Mugabe, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 13, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu)Effort Mugabe, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 13, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu)
x
Effort Mugabe, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 13, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu)
Effort Mugabe, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 13, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu)

If they have been to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, they might not attend the conference, but Effort Mugabe, the coordinator of the Jehovah's Witnesses conference, is convinced all will go well.

“We are not very much concerned, because very shortly the government assured that they are in total control of it.  We do hope that with the help of the government, we will be happy to do it without any problems at all," he said.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is probably the deadliest in history and led health ministers from southern Africa to meet in South Africa last week.  They asked World Health Organization officials to provide for the control of the international spread of disease across borders.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid