As Ghana rises in arms at the command of? His ExcellencyPresident John Dramani Mahama to seal our borders to prevent possible entry of the deadly Ebola disease from four neighboring West Africancountries,Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, where the hemorrhage fever has reportedly claimed over a thousand lives with several thousands more racing for their lives either in hospitals orin quarantined zones, a lot is expected from authorities in regions that share border with neighboring countries.

The Upper East region has several districts that borders with our neighbouring countries. One of such places is the Bongo district. The district share border with Burkina Faso in the north eastern part and has one policed entry point at Namoo and an uncountable number of unapproved routes along astretch of communities.The same can be said of Garu-Tempane, Bawku municipal and Kassena-Nankana West districts.

For? districtslike these that have had to grapple with cross borders issues during national immunizations and CSM? vaccinations, the concerns of possible? Ebola entry in case of outbreak across any of the borders is real. ?It is in the light of this that health authorities in the region havebeen constantly working out vigilance plans in monitoring human traffic across the borders and surrounding communities. The Ebola virus Surveillance Action Plan rolled out by the regionentails,screening at the entry points, intensive diseasesurveillance, sensitization durbars at all border communities, sensitization of targeted women and menwho handle traditional burials popularly called ?undertakers?, sensitization of Circuit Supervisors of the Ghana Education Service, teachers and Assembly Members.

The grand plan was outdoored ata joined meeting of the various District Health Committees and the Regional Epidemic Response Committee.Dr Joseph Opare Kojo Larbi,Deputy Director of Health in charge of Public Health at the Regional Health Directorate who briefed the participants on the nature and prevention of the Ebola virus said the disease is so dreadful not only because it has no known cure or vaccination yet but also because during outbreaks health workers who are supposed to take care of the victims are at the highest risk of contracting the disease. This most often renders the health system ineffective.? He therefore advised that it was important the country and all stakeholders do everything possibleto prevent the disease from entering our borders.

In an interview, the BongoDistrict Director of Health Services Mrs. Juliana Akugre said their past experience in dealing with health and cross border issues havemade authorities in the district like other border zones to be very much aware of the dangers pose by poor surveillance at the border particularly during disease outbreaks. She noted that apart from social and economic activities that bring about the interaction of people along the borders, the Bongo district is home to many renowned traditional healers who are major referral centers for people within and across Burkina Faso. She revealed that due to the effective functioning of the wpid-ebola-doctors.jpgCommunity-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) system people living closer to Ghanaian communities in all the border districts prefer to access health care services at the CHPS compounds and other health facilities in Ghana. She said the Bongo District Hospital for instance serves asa major referral point for communities in Burkina Faso. This situation she said calls for extra vigilance and intense surveillance in fighting any possible case or outbreak.

The Medical Superintendent at the Bongo District Hospital Dr. William Gudu said in the face of unrelenting spread of Ebola outbreak across West Africa, no institution can afford to sit unprepared. He noted that the rather too close location of the Bongo district Hospital to ?neighboring Burkina? have heighten the fears of health staff at the hospital hence the need to put in place critical surveillance measures to help detect and isolate? any suspected case before ?potential harm is caused. He reveled that the hospital has identified and set up a room at the facility as isolation ward for suspected Ebola victims. They have also activated their epidemic alertness plans and sensitized staff about the disease. He however decried the inadequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Bongo District Chief Executive, Hon.? Alexis Ayandorwho took part in the meeting underscored the importance of the joint meeting of the Health Committee and the Epidemic Response team and appealed to? stakeholders to show true commitment in the implementation of the surveillance plans to ensure that the Ebola virus disease is prevented from entering or quickly detected and professionally handled in ?the unlikely event that the disease enters the region He assured the health service of his District Assembly?s support ?in the implementation of the action plans.

In the past few weeks, five suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in the Upper East region but laboratory test of blood samples of the victims sent to Nuguchi Research Institute all proved ??negative. All the suspected cases were picked up from some of the borders districts in the region namely, Kassena Nankana (Paga), Bawku Municipal and Bawku West District.

Mathias Aboba

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