Evading Ebola

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Oct 20 2014, 08:12am hrs
With a Harvard Medical School expert, as The Hindu reports, warning that Indias susceptibility to the Ebola virus disease is very, very high, it is time India became a part of concerted action on containing the epidemic that is raging in West Africa. More so, with the deadly virus having crossed oceansthrough infected travellersinto Europe (Spain) and the US. The Ebola virus group causes haemorraghic fever and has killed over 4,500 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea apart from sporadic cases in Senegal and Nigeria.

Even though as many as 21,799 travellers from the countries that have reported infections have been screened in India between August 1 and October 12, the US experience proves how inadequate such rudimentary methods can be. Similarly, while the Union health ministry carrying out mock-drills simulating Ebola infection treatment at hospitals is a welcome exercise, it will barely make a dent if hospital staff are not trained in minimising exposure risks, given the chaotic and teeming public hospitals we have. Also, given there are just two centresone at Pune and the other at Delhito test conclusively for Ebola before the 10 other labs planned are up to capacity, detection could also possibly be retarded greatly, consuming crucial response time. It does help that the health ministry has also got states to actstates have identified at least one hospital where isolation and treatment wards have also been set up. But what would perhaps help India better is to coordinate efforts with other nations, especially the ones where infection has been detected and contained, like Nigeria, on minimising risks.