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31 July 2014

Stop creating needless panic, fear about Ebola - Dr E. Obeng-Apori.

he Medical Director of the Ridge Hospital in Accra, Dr E. Obeng-Apori, has called on health professionals to stop creating unnecessary panic about the Ebola disease.

He said the manner in which some health workers were consistently going public with suspected cases anytime someone reported with viral hemorrhagic fever, without ascertaining whether the symptoms were positive for Ebola or not, was the cause of the needless panic and fear creeping into the country.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, Dr Obeng-Apori said, "You don't report on a suspected case until it's proved positive. Every small case we say Ebola. Suspected and so what? You are expected to suspect because you are at the forefront.

“All this hullabaloo about suspected cases is bad. It is throwing everybody out of gear."

While calling on Ghanaians to remain calm in the face of the unprofessional behaviour of people who were expected to know better, the medical director also urged the public to treat suspected symptoms seriously and report to the nearest health facility.

The Ridge example

Dr Obeng-Apori said over the weekend, the hospital received two suspected cases but handled them professionally by following the rules of testing.

“Within 24 hours, the reports from the Noguchi Centre for Medical Research had come and they were negative. If we had decided to go public about the suspected cases, it could have compounded the fear and panic already creeping into the country," he said.

He said even when one suspected 10 cases to be Ebola, that information should not be passed on to the public.

"If we follow the rules of examining suspected patients, there will be no fear or panic," he added.

Most devastating outbreak

In what is described as the most devastating Ebola outbreak in history, the epidemic has affected four West Africa countries, namely Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

“As it continues to overwhelm health authorities and political leaders, the disease, which starts with flu-like symptoms and usually ends with horrific hemorrhaging, had killed 672 people as of July 23, 2014,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Real threat

Dr Obeng-Apori said the fact that no positive case had been recorded in Ghana so far did not mean the nation was not at risk.

He argued that the fact that the nation's borders were porous gave reason to believe that "anything can happen".

In that case, vigilance was the word and all signs of the disease needed to be reported to the health facilities as early as possible, he said.


Education, he noted, was key to arresting the dangers associated with the disease.

With information on Ebola all over on the Internet, the medical director said the avenue had already been created for that information to be spread across the country.

Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

In a related development, some health professionals at the Emergency Centre of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra got scared when a man suspected to be suffering from Ebola was referred there from a health facility in Koforidua, reports Doreen Hammond.

According to reports, the health workers would not get closer to the patient for fear of contracting the disease.

But the Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mr Mustapha Salifu, told the Daily Graphic that the case was not Ebola.

“If it were Ebola, would they have transported the patient all the way from Koforidua to Accra?” he asked.

Asked whether the hospital was prepared to handle the disease, Mr Salifu said he was aware of preparations being made in that direction but could not say the hospital was prepared .



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