By Sajid Takar
Nowadays almost every person across the globe having a bit of knowhow about the health and science would have at least heard about the deadly virus of Ebola that has hit the West Africa last year so severely that about more than 4500 lives have been claimed so for. It has created such a panic that the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) have especially designed programs and strategies to counter this threat. Now, the question arises how did this virus outbreak occur and exactly where?
A group of international researchers has said that the outbreak of the deadly virus was caused by an infected bat biting a young boy near village of Meliandoua in eastern Guinea back in December 2013. The infection passed on to his mother and, according to the reports, both son and mother were dead within days. It is also said that the disease further spread when the relatives and locales came to participate in funeral. The researchers spent more than three weeks investigating the outbreak of the disease in Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast and finally believed that bats were the main carriers for the disease. There are also some international reports suggesting that the number of dead is far higher than the official figures being reported. To tackle the virus the United Nations called on an emergency meeting during the last month where the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced an emergency mission that is working in collaboration with the WHO. The reports in the beginning of the running month suggested that an average of 5 persons per hour were being falling to the disease in Sierra Leone indicating its intensity. The WHO has also expressed its fears that the virus may affect about 10,000 more people despite the international efforts being made. However, a sense of fear spread across Pakistan during the month of October when the WHO warned that Ebola virus might spread to Pakistan sooner or later. Speaking to foreign media, WHO Representative in Pakistan Dr Michel Thieren said that since Ebola virus was spreading faster across the world and Pakistan was also at a high risk of it. He suggested Pakistan government to take precautionary measures against the disease.
In response to these warning and threats of Ebola the federal government chalked out a comprehensive plan to tackle the Ebola Virus Disease in case of an outbreak in Pakistan. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC), chaired a meeting in Islamabad to chalk out a plan.
She said that though Pakistan has low risk of Ebola transmission and no case of Ebola had been reported in the country so far, but it is all set to deal with the fatal disease adding that the government had taken measures to provide guidance, advice and capacity building to the people to prevent the disease. Tarar added that all major airports across the country had been directed to take essential measures to screen passengers coming from Ebola-affected countries, while public hospitals directed to establish separate isolation wards for the treatment of its patients. Besides, President Mamnoon Hussain has also ordered provinces to take measures against Ebola virus and has sought a report from the chief secretaries of all the provinces about the measures taken so far to cope with the virus. The President directed the authorities to make arrangements for the screening at the airports, ports and border areas as well as arrange medicines and allocate special wards in the hospitals for any prospective patient of Ebola virus.
The important thing above all is to set the perception of the nation towards this threat. List it should become a controversial issue like the others we have. Until now, there are no evidence or cases reported of the said virus, but in case it occurs, proper strategies and planning should be developed so that to cope with it in a well-planned manner.