Sarjo Camara Singateh “Ebola is a highly contagious partogen and as laboratory workers you need to put all your gadgets on to protect yourself first before taking the sample of any patient or suspect,” said Mr. Bakary Sanneh, Senior Laboratory Scientist at the National Public Health Lab. He gave this advice when he was addressing participants at a recent Ebola Sensitisation workshop. Mr. Sanneh told participants that the Gambia has still not seen a single Ebola patient and that the previous two suspects whose samples were taken to Senegal have proved negative. He described Ebola as an international emergency. The Senior Lab Scientist said the Gambia does not yet have the technical capacity to test and confirm suspected Ebola patients, but that they only have the capacity to collect the sample and isolate the suspected patient and then send the sample to the only WHO Reference Lab based in Dakar, Senegal. “Here we have category 4 lab which can protect the technician from catching the virus easily, but before collecting the sample you need to send communication to World Health Organisation (WHO) for experts’ advice according to the situation or condition of the person,” he said.. Mr. Sanneh also stressed the importance of the mobile van that was donated by the West African Health organisation (WAHO) which is ideal to take the sample at a protective and closed place given the nature of the Ebola virus. He said instead of collecting a sample and then taking it to a far distance, the van makes it easier and safer for a lab technician to go and meet the patients in order to collect samples. He noted that there are plans in place to train three laboratory technicians in each region for the decentralisation of sample collection. Mr. Sanna Sambou, Coordinator of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit under the Ministry of Health, explained the work his office is doing and how the ministry is engaged in the fight against Ebola. The disease control specialist said Ebola which is a haemorrhagic fever that is claiming many lives has now reached international dimension after its reported outbreak in February 2014 in Guinea Conakry. He said since then, they have strengthened their preparedness and response capacities.
- Mr. Sambou recognised the need for the monitoring of all the border posts to screen people coming into the country rather than passive surveillance which mean to sit and wait for patients at the health facilities. “We don’t want to see hospitals full with patients as a result of lack of control at the border,” he said surveillance is the continuous monitoring of diseases.