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Preparing for Ebola Virus Disease in West African countries not yet affected: perspectives from Ghanaian health professionals

Nyarko, Y; Goldfrank, L; Ogedegbe, G; Soghoian, S; de-Graft Aikins, A; (2015) Preparing for Ebola Virus Disease in West African countries not yet affected: perspectives from Ghanaian health professionals. Globalization and Health , 11 , Article 7. 10.1186/s12992-015-0094-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Background The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic has ravaged the social fabric of three West African countries and affected people worldwide. We report key themes from an agenda-setting, multi-disciplinary roundtable convened to examine experiences and implications for health systems in Ghana, a nation without cases but where risk for spread is high and the economic, social and political impact of the impending threat is already felt. Discussion Participants’ personal stories and the broader debates to define fundamental issues and opportunities for preparedness focused on three inter-related themes. First, the dangers of the fear response itself were highlighted as a threat to the integrity and continuity of quality care. Second, healthcare workers’ fears were compounded by a demonstrable lack of societal and personal protections for infection prevention and control in communities and healthcare facilities, as evidenced by an ongoing cholera epidemic affecting over 20,000 patients in the capital Accra alone since June 2014. Third, a lack of coherent messaging and direction from leadership seems to have limited coordination and reinforced a level of mistrust in the government’s ability and commitment to mobilize an adequate response. Initial recommendations include urgent investment in the needed supplies and infrastructure for basic, routine infection control in communities and healthcare facilities, provision of assurances with securities for frontline healthcare workers, establishment of a multi-sector, “all-hazards” outbreak surveillance system, and engaging directly with key community groups to co-produce contextually relevant educational messages that will help decrease stigma, fear, and the demoralizing perception that the disease defies remedy or control. Summary The EVD epidemic provides an unprecedented opportunity for West African countries not yet affected by EVD cases to make progress on tackling long-standing health systems weaknesses. This roundtable discussion emphasized the urgent need to strengthen capacity for infection control, occupational health and safety, and leadership coordination. Significant commitment is needed to raise standards of hygiene in communities and health facilities, build mechanisms for collaboration across sectors, and engage community stakeholders in creating the needed solutions. It would be both devastating and irresponsible to waste the opportunity.

Type: Article
Title: Preparing for Ebola Virus Disease in West African countries not yet affected: perspectives from Ghanaian health professionals
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12992-015-0094-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-015-0094-z
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Contact surveillance, Ebola virus disease, Global health crisis, Infection control, Personal protective equipment, Preparedness, Psychological consequences
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office > UCL Institute for Advanced Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1576503
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