Toying With Ebola

Reports reaching DAILY GUIDE paint a gloomy picture of government�s palpable unpreparedness for Ebola. With a casualty figure of about 600 in the epicentre of the pandemic, Guinea, and other countries in the sub-region of which we are a part, we should fret at the indifference of government and the various agencies concerned. In an editorial, following Nigeria�s first reported case of the killer disease and the subsequent death of the victim, we did bemoan the lack of preparation for the disease, should it make its way into the country, even though we pray and hope it does not. It was not surprising, therefore, when the General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) pressed what was definitely an alarm bell over government�s obvious unpreparedness for any Ebola eventuality. With an unparalleled infection rate, and thriving on bad hygienic practices in a region where handshakes are a norm, there can be no denying the fact that it is not an issue to be toyed with by officialdom as evidenced. The GMA claims that the country has not made any arrangement(s) to contain what is already a pandemic in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone�a picture which has already sent chills down the spines of a few Ghanaians. The Ghana Immigration Service, a state agency which is responsible for entry and departure control at our porous border posts, have added their voice to the growing concern about the scary unpreparedness of officialdom for the Ebola pandemic. For most of our compatriots, and of course government, Ebola is still a story from Mars, too distant to be of any significant consequence. That should account for the indifferent attitude from officialdom so far. It is paradoxical that in spite of this lukewarm attitude towards what is the most unnerving story since the plaque that hit Accra in 1908, President John Mahama as Chairman of the sub-regional body hosted an ECOWAS session on the subject. We put up a wry smile when the subject was put in the public domain. We knew the session was nothing but a conference room activity over coffee with nothing concrete taking place. So many weeks after the deliberation, not even protective apparels have been imported into the country the ECOWAS Chairman is presiding over. We won�t be surprised if some medical personnel have limited knowledge about the pandemic and its occurrence so far in the sub-region. We have a lot to learn from how the colonial authorities moved swiftly to contain the 1908 plaque which killed so many people in Accra. The proactive response of the then colonial administration brought the pandemic under control within a very short time, even though medical science and technological know-how had not reached the level it has today. Some residents were debarred from coming to other parts of Accra in 1908 as an immediate response, and the people were educated on how to handle persons who died from the plaque. Showing near similar attributes with Ebola, the burial parties died almost as soon as they came in contact with victims of the deadly disease, which was first spotted at the Christiansburg Castle through the death of an unusual number of dead rats. Also, areas with inappropriate housing such as Cowlane, Nmlitsa Gonno at the time had residents moved to Oblogo Road, now Sabon Zongo. Isn�t it time for our authorities to swing into full action by detaching this subject from the others and putting on an emergency footing?