via Health ministry launches Ebola website 30 October 2014
Following Ebola scares that have circulated on the social media that the disease is in Zimbabwe, the Health ministry has launched a website to raise awareness and disseminate the latest information regarding the disease.
The website, which provides citizens with the latest information regarding the disease in the country and internationally aims at ensuring that citizens are not exposed to speculation on Ebola in Zimbabwe and maintain the country’s status as an Ebola free country.
Speaking at the launch of the website in Harare today, Paul Chimedza, the deputy minister in the Health ministry said it would be irresponsible for the government to conceal information regarding the disease considering the negative implications of such action on the spread of the Ebola virus.
“We were losing the fight in our quest to tell the people that there is no Ebola in the country on the social media,” said Chimedza.
“A lot of false stories, some of which include that there was an Ebola patient in Murehwa circulated on whatsapp and we realised the need to set up this social media platform to dispel such stories officially.”
Chimedza said through the website. The ministry would not only counter false social media stories but it would provide a platform where citizens who suspected any outbreak of Ebola cases had the opportunity to alert the ministry for intervention.
“It is irresponsible for any government to lie about Ebola,” said chimedza, appealing to the public not to spread falsehoods through the social media.
“Ebola is not a death sentence. Not everyone who catches Ebola dies because there are people that have survived,” said Chimedza.
The website, which can be found on www.letsgozero.co.zw offers citizens and the rest of the world the Health ministry’s official and latest information regarding the disease in Zimbabwe.
The website, where citizens can fill in their mobile and e- mail details, gives the ministry a database of contacts where the ministry can officially communicate its position through the Whatsapp platform and via e- mail.
Through the website, citizens can get information on how they can prevent contracting the Ebola virus. It also tells people about the signs and symptoms of the disease. It provides useful links on information about the disease and gives the general populace an opportunity to post their questions and get speedy responses from ministry officials.
“We want citizens to know that we are winning the war against Ebola and they should be able to give the ministry information of any suspected Ebola case. They should know the country’s preparedness in handling the disease and that information should be readily available,” said Chimedza.
Earlier this month, Karikoga Kaseke, the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) revealed that Zimbabwe had lost close to $6 million in tourists’ revenue following the circulation of news especially on the social media of an Ebola scare.
Elizabeth Nerwande, the Corporate Affairs Executive for Mimosa said it is important for citizens to understand that Ebola is deadly but it can be prevented.
“Government needs the corporate sector support to ensure that we maintain the country’s status as an Ebola free country,” said Nerwande.
Ebola is a highly contagious viral disease that can kill up to 90 percent of those infected although the symptoms generally take 2 to 21 days to become apparent.
Symptoms of the disease are deceptively general, and infected persons experience malaria or flu like symptoms.
According to the health ministry, infected persons are not contagious until they display Ebola symptoms.
Zimbabwe, along with other Southern African Development Community countries, adopted measures to protect the spread of the Ebola virus in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines.
This is despite that there has been no prior outbreak of Ebola in the country.
As at end October 2014, there has been no confirmed case of Ebola in Zimbabwe, according to the Health ministry.
However, Zimbabwe adopted a national approach to ensure prompt detection of any Ebola case starting with the screening of any visitors or returning residents from Ebola affected countries at Zimbabwe’s international airports and border posts.
Infrared thermal cameras, and hand held laser thermometers, rather than contact thermometers are being used to detect fever and sickness at these said “Ebola high risk areas”; arrivals are also made to fill out questionnaires to enable the local teams of health workers to follow them up.
The ministry of Health has established a 21-day monitoring programme for visitors and returning residents that arrive in Zimbabwe from Ebola reporting countries, with or without possible symptoms of the virus.
The visitors are compelled to report to the health facility if they develop any symptoms , while the health workers visit them once a week till the 21 days of follow up or surveillance is completed.
In addition, the National Rapid Response Team has designated 5 Ebola care and management centers, the largest of which is the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital run by the City of Harare health services. The others are Thornigrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, Gweru Infectious Diseases Hospital, Hwange Colliary Hospital and the IOM facility in Beitbridge.
Any suspected cases of Ebola identified countrywide will be transferred there, using agreed referral mechanisms.