Medics' union urges government Ebola-prevention moves

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The Union of Health Care and Social Workers (LVSADA) sent a note to Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma Monday urging the government to take immediate steps to protect residents of Latvia from the Ebola virus, reported LETA.

In the letter, the LVSADA union points out the need to activate World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations to be prepared to assume all essential measures to identify and treat infected persons, as well as provide official information to the public on how to avoid infection.

On October 10 after its Friday meeting with partner organizations in Brazzaville the WHO issued a report calling for ‘core actions’ to strengthen Ebola preparedness in unaffected countries, including a "comprehensive checklist of core principles, standards, capacities and practices, which all countries should have or meet. The checklist can be used by countries to assess their level of preparedness, guide their efforts to strengthen themselves and to request assistance. Items on the checklist include infection prevention control, contact tracing, case management, surveillance, laboratory capacity, safe burial, public awareness and community engagement and national legislation and regulation to support country readiness," says the WHO release.

“While we rightly focus on stopping the outbreak in affected countries, we should not forget that all other countries are at risk, albeit at varying levels”, said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo. “This meeting has served our purpose to plan support to unaffected countries, especially priority ones, to be prepared and be ready to detect and respond to any Ebola virus disease if it occurs.”

The initial focus of support by WHO and partners will be on “highest priority countries - Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal - followed by “high priority countries” – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia,  Ghana, Mauritania, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Togo. Criteria used to prioritize countries include geographical proximity to affected countries, trade and migration patterns and strength of health systems.

On Friday Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics proposed a government grant of up to 50,000 euros to the African nations afflicted by the dreaded virus.

As LVSADA chairman Valdis Keris warns:

“Organizing the essential measures when the Ebola virus infection has been confirmed on the ground will be far too late. To protect medics and the entire population of Latvia from infection, the government must act without delay!”

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