After polio, measles, dengue, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), now it’s the Ebola virus disease that Pakistan has to contend with in the wake of a global warning by the World Health Organisation.
“Pakistan is not the only country, which has been warned by the WHO, as the Ebola can spread anywhere in the world, where there is mass movement of people from Ebola-affected places, especially from western African countries,” said a senior official of the WHO, who wished anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to media.
Ebola, according to WHO, is a communicable disease transmitted from wild infected animal such as chimpanzee, monkey, pig among others, to a human, who come in direct contact with their secretions like blood, urine, faeces, saliva, etc.
It also spreads from one affected person to other person, again through bodily secretions. According to the WHO, Ebola has claimed 4,447 lives across the globe so far and it is feared that the toll will rise in the next two months, if timely measures are not taken.
So far, no case of Ebola has been reported in Pakistan but as early preparedness measures, the WHO wants the health department to be on its toes round the clock. This, however, has become really challenging for the country, which has failed in showing satisfactory performance to the international community in controlling many of these infectious diseases.
Pakistan has chalked out a comprehensive plan to deal with the disease and for its prevention but it is not easy to stop its transmission, said the official.
“Even developed nations – like the US and EU states – which have far better technology for the early detection of the virus have failed to control its transmission; therefore, it is difficult to expect much from developing countries like Pakistan to halt its transmission,” said the WHO official.
Like many other countries, Pakistan lacks a laboratory for testing a blood sample for Ebola and test kits for its early detection, said the official. For the entire Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), there is only one laboratory for testing the EVD which is in Cairo, he said.
“For developing countries, like Pakistan, the only possible way to detect this fatal disease is through proper screening at the airports of all the people coming from Ebola-affected countries, followed by strict monitoring and tracking of its patient,” said the official.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2014.