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Botswana not sending health workers to West Africa

SHARE   |   Sunday, 09 November 2014   |   By Shingirai Madondo

The government of Botswana has decided not to send health officials to the Ebola-hit countries in the western part of Africa.

Health officials from Botswana were expected to join their professional counterparts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as per the African Union Commission (AUC) appeal. Early last week, the AUC appealed to its member state to contribute human resources to fight the deadly Ebola virus following revelations the disease is spreading like veldt fire in West African countries.

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AUC chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made the appeal early last week amid calls for immediate action to have adequate screening infrastructure at airports.    

With reports that the turning point in the fight against Ebola has not yet been reached, Dlamini-Zuma called for more continental solidarity to bring medical and public health officials to the affected countries. 

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Under Operation African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak (ASEOWA), the AUC has already called for emergency meetings of its executive and peace and security councils, resulting in the deployment of medical volunteers to two of the most affected countries - 28 to Liberia and 21 to Sierra Leone. 

Shenaaz El-Halabi, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, said Botswana would like to send health officials to the Ebola-hit nations in a bid to heed the call of the AUC. 

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El-Halabi said Botswana is facing similar challenges in human resources like the countries currently affected by the deadly disease. She said Botswana is still relying heavily on imported health workforce.

“Our health facilities are operating under siege at the moment due to an acute shortage of workforce,” she revealed. She said Botswana has considered other forms of assistance aside from sending health workers to the Ebola-hit countries. Three months ago, Botswana donated a total of P1.5 million towards the affected countries, she said.

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Since early this year, the Ebola epidemic has been wreaking havoc in the western part of the African continent affecting close to 10 000 people and killing at least 4 546 persons across the three most affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 



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