Zim can contain Ebola: CDC

HARARE - Zimbabwe has a stronger health system compared to its West African counterparts that can help it manage any Ebola outbreak, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.

CDC director Peter Kilmarx, who is overseeing staff in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone for a month, told the Daily News yesterday that Zimbabweans should relax as the disease, if it ever spreads, it will be contained.

“Stay calm,” Kilmarx said.

“It is always possible that this virus could spread to Zimbabwe, but I think the public health systems and preparedness are good, and it is unlikely that there would be a sustained epidemic like there is here.”

This comes as 718 travellers have been screened under the ongoing Ebola surveillance, with 434 being Nigerians, 124 Congolese, 37 Liberians, 46 Sierra Leoneans, four Guineans and six Senegalese nationals. None of them have tested positive of Ebola.

Zimbabwe is a major transit point for the Southern region.

Kilmarx is confident that Zimbabwe will contain any cases that may arise.

“Health systems in Western Africa are not strong,” Kilmarx said.

“In a way, we have been lucky in Zimbabwe to have a good public health system and to have had other resources to strengthen public health training, infection prevention and control, health information systems, and laboratory systems.”

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first recorded in March 2014. Up to September 30, the death toll was standing at 3 439 in the four worst hit countries namely Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The total number of reported cases is in excess of 7 400. It is now the deadliest outbreak since its discovery in 1976.

Kilmarx said: “It will be months before we can significantly reduce transmission and more months to finally eliminate it. International expectations should be kept high that countries can manage their resources well to reduce the burden of diseases.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) admits the figures are underestimated, warning that there could be as many as         20 000 cases by November if efforts to tackle the outbreak are not stepped up.

In apparent reference to how traditional practices are fuelling the spread of the deadly virus, Kilmarx said, “Behaviours are not easy to change. Humans want to care for and touch their loved ones when they are sick or their bodies when they have died.”

Kilmarx said the Zimbabwean government should maintain the “open door” policy approach to Ebola.

Ebola spreads from human-to-human through direct contact of broken skin or mucous membranes through blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.

Comments (17)

"Kilmarx told the Daily News"...from where? Did he visit Zimbabwe (if so why?), did the Daily News call him in the US? Really confusing journalism.

Observer - 8 October 2014

Musatifurire.Gore riya vanhu vakapera nemanyoka.

Godfrey - 8 October 2014

This article does not seem reliable. The editor, please note that this can't be true if you realize that our health system failed with simple manyoka the other time.We should not live under false health security simply to make ourselves feel happy pretending to be 'the best.' This guy who is far away in Siera Leione cannot make such authoritative statements about the health system of a country he has never visited. Creating a sense of false security can lead to disaster. We know that our country is broke and doctors are underpaid.

Chenjerai Hove - 8 October 2014

I could have easily predicted that this article -which, for a change, says something positive about Zim- would NOT go down well with lots of self-hating Zimbos who can't ever imagine that anything good can be said about Zim!! All they prefer is NEGATIVE news so s/thing like this is a terrible shock to them!! For the record, all that the guy is saying is that compared to most west African countries, Zim has a far much better health system; he didn't say we were the best in the whole world!!

ZVOKWADI - 8 October 2014

@Chenjerai Hove, We know you have to sing for your stay wherever it is that you have chosen to exile yourself. But that should not blind to the extent of failing to appreciate your country of birth. Peter Kilmarx is speaking from an informed position. He is the CDC country director for Zimbabwe!

Ban'a - 8 October 2014

When I first read this I closed my eyes and said to myself: "This is not going to go down well with Chenjerai Hove." Thanks for not disappointing me , Chenjerai.

Francis - 8 October 2014

Okay, thank you for the compliment Mr. Klirmax ,I am sure Zimbos appreciate it. However, telling people to relax doesn't sound right. I think they should maintain the screenings like everyone else is doing ,especially in developed countries.

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 9 October 2014

Zim cannot contain Ebola. This virus is ravaging in better economies than Zimbabwe and with our country not even ablle to provide the basics like water and electricity how can the powers that be bark that they can contain Ebola. Our hopes are pinned only on God who can save us because we habe losy confidence in the health delivery systems of our country. Imagine spending 5 years at medical school then getting a meager salary of say $500? This is a complete complete mockery to the health delivery system of our country.

tino - 9 October 2014

Zim cannot contain Ebola. This virus is ravaging in better economies than Zimbabwe and with our country not even ablle to provide the basics like water and electricity how can the powers that be bark that they can contain Ebola. Our hopes are pinned only on God who can save us because we habe losy confidence in the health delivery systems of our country. Imagine spending 5 years at medical school then getting a meager salary of say $500? This is a complete complete mockery to the health delivery system of our country.

tino - 9 October 2014

Who the F*** is this Klirmax!! Stupid comments. You have no idea how the health delivery system has crumbled. As it is now Zimbabwe cannot deal with any disaster - ebola, cholera, tyiphoid, drought, floods etc. If this Klirmax is a doctor maybe he was given a doctorate by Bob. Visit Zim and make your assessment before telling the world nonsense about such a serious issue as Ebola.

Garikayi - 9 October 2014

Daily News Editorial staff has deliberately omitted the comments section on the article about Grace saying Mugabe was a priest lest there is a torrent of abusive comments which might get Daily News into trouble with ZanuPF. How can you say you are free when you are unable to publish what the public is thinking? I did write one or two letters to the Rhodesia Herald during white rule on minor social issues. Some of the letters were published som were not although I have to say there was very little politically to complain about at the time.

Musona - 9 October 2014

Daily News Editor has deliberately omitted the comments section on the article about Grace saying Mugabe was a priest lest there is a torrent of abusive comments which might get Daily News into trouble with ZanuPF. How can you say you are free when you are unable to publish what the public is thinking? I did write one or two letters to the Rhodesia Herald during white rule on minor social issues. Some of the letters were published some were not although I have to say there was very little to complain about on the political front at the time. I do not see anything abusive or upsetting about putting the record straight. Why do some politicians try and change history when some of us where there before even black nationalism took root? We are not fools.

Musona - 9 October 2014

I agree with you my fellow compatriots,Our country is not an island thereby not immune totally to the problematic issues affecting others elswhere,however,we take cognisant of the fact that we have our virtues but in my view its not time to relax and be proud of that but rather we ought to be on guard.

carson Macate - 9 October 2014

Daily News Editor has deliberately omitted the comments section on the article about Grace saying Mugabe was a priest lest there is a torrent of abusive comments which might get Daily News into trouble with ZanuPF. How can you say you are free when you are unable to publish what the public is thinking? I did write one or two letters to the Rhodesia Herald during white rule on minor social issues. Some of the letters were published some were not although I have to say there was very little to complain about on the political front at the time. I do not see anything abusive or upsetting about putting the record straight. Why do some politicians try and change history when some of us were there before even black nationalism took root? We are not fools.

Musona - 9 October 2014

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