A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) calls for the immediate promulgation of a national plan of action to respond to the threat of entry of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) into Guyana.
President Donald Ramotar’s broadcast to the nation last Friday 17th October, did not go far enough. It indicated that his Government, despite its awareness of international alarm over the EVD outbreak in certain West African countries, which was reported six (6) months ago, is still to convince the population at large that the Administration is ready to deal with the EVD threat.
Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, though warned of the gravity of the public health threat, has reacted slowly. The Ministry, as in the case of the still raging Chikungunya disease, has failed to promulgate a comprehensive plan. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett’s sweeping directive on the 9th September to Guyana’s embassies and consulates, “…not to issue visas to nationals from West African countries,” is unfocussed and unhelpful.
APNU is dissatisfied with the uncoordinated, unsatisfactory and ad hoc responses announced by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration. APNU demands that the PPP/C pays greater attention to the following measures:
- Protection, prevention and surveillance: Surveillance must be improved at formal ports of entry at which legitimate passengers could be screened. The well-known, notorious, illegal backtrack routes must also be closed. The country, must construct ‘retention centres’ at ports of entry for quarantining and monitoring persons who are suspected of having been exposed to the virus.
- Community engagement and social mobilisation: The President’s promise “… to seek maximum cooperation” and to invite “leaders of all parliamentary political parties and civil society to join forces with the government in a national response to prepare and protect our people from the deadly Ebola disease” is still to happen. EBV knows no borders in modern countries. It could affect urban, rural and hinterland populations. The entire nation needs to be educated and engaged about the danger of the disease.
- Containment, coordination and control: There has to be a single national plan of action to coordinate the efforts of the Government, civil airlines and the population. This is necessary to oversee the activation of neighbourhood, regional and national public health response and to recruit, equip and train volunteers. The Government must act quickly to acquire sufficient medical supplies ― including personal protective equipment such as face shields, masks, goggles, gowns and gloves ― in order to be better prepared to protect the population.
- Clinical preparedness and case management: EVD spreads through human-to-human transmission. There must, therefore, be early diagnosis of infection and prompt supportive care. There must also be good laboratory services, case management, contact-tracing and safe burials.
APNU reaffirms its total commitment to protect the population from any threat to public health. APNU is prepared to work with the Government and civil society in order to achieve this goal. APNU calls for the immediate promulgation of a national plan of action to respond to the threat of entry of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) into Guyana.