Prevention better than cure, always
With the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring Ebola as an international health emergency, the Indian government is taking measures with utmost preparedness in the wake of an outbreak. India’s airports have been put on alert and the government has opened an emergency helpline to tackle the crisis. A mechanism has also been worked out in consultation with the civil aviation and home ministries for collection of information on travelers to India from the affected countries. To put things in perspective, it will be quite a daunting task for the government to come up with appropriate advanced surveillance and tracking systems in case of an outbreak. But with faith prevailing over this assertive, result-oriented Narendra Modi government, one can also expect a systematic approach and motivation to address this issue.
With nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in the four Ebola-affected West African countries, health officials have expressed the possibility of some of them returning to their homeland if conditions worsen there. Keeping this in mind, the health ministry has assured extensive measures to prevent the spread of the dreaded Ebola virus disease in India. In a recent statement, health minister Harsh Vardhan has said that there is no need to panic and that proper systems have been put in place to attend an outbreak. Two ambulances of Maharashtra State Emergency Medical Service have been deployed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, following directives from the Centre’s International Health Division for necessary alertness at all the international entry points. A 24-hour ‘Emergency Operation Centre’ has also been set up in this regard. The government has also opened an emergency helpline, which is responding to as many as 30 calls during the day. Apart from this, communiques have been sent out to all medical officials to be prepared to handle any eventuality. The state has also asked the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune to provide diagnostic facility for EVD. Special centres at airports and ports have been set up to deal with those showing any potential symptoms of Ebola. All air passengers arriving in India from Ebola-affected countries are now required to fill in a symptom-checklist form that will help in creating a database to track those who might develop symptoms. In such a case, caution and maturity can really be the key for a country having a population of 1.2 billion to steer itself out of such a quandary.