Mmegi Online :: Swine Flu: Botswana On High Alert
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Last Updated
Friday 08 December 2017, 17:25 pm.
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Swine Flu: Botswana On High Alert

The Ministry of Health remains vigilant and committed to preventing and addressing any H1N1 influenza outbreaks, director of public health Sheenaz El Halabi has said.
By Chandapiwa Baputaki
Staff Writer
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Swine Flu: Botswana On High Alert








She was speaking at a briefing on H1N1 influenza, commonly known as 'swine flu', held at the ministry headquarters in Gaborone after the announcement  last week by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the disease outbreak has become widespread.

El Halabi said isolation health facilities are being identified in most districts with Block 8 clinic in Gaborone being one of them. She said temporary isolation areas at airports have also been identified while communication is ongoing with other points of entry in the country. She revealed that stocking of antiviral and other essential drugs is ongoing.

"Stocking of personal protective equipment is ongoing with ambulances, staff and other logistics being on standby," said.

The public health director stated that contingency plans have been put in place to maintain and ensure provision of routine health services. She indicated that they face the challenge of the virus by complacency of the public and health workers when they do not hear any case in neighbouring countries and the high population movements across border," she said.

El Halabi said the other challenge they are facing is the unpredictability of the characteristics of the influenza viruses and a lack of a vaccine for the current strain.

She stated that Botswana has put a lot of effort into the preparation of its national preparedness plan. Structures at the national level have been formed to strengthen the coordination

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of preparedness for pandemic influenza. She said all district public health departments and hospitals have been informed to reactivate their epidemic preparedness and response committees will be provided with technical support from the national level.

She pointed out that district health officers have been sensitised on the situation and advised to enhance their surveillance. El Halabi said districts have started sending a summary of screened travellers with communication made with major stakeholders such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Immigration and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS). "Communication with airlines to protect their employees and passengers and to report suspected cases to civil aviation authority prior to landing has been made. We have also requested a list of flight passenger details to be provided in case of a suspected case," she said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture has been requested to strengthen and re-enforce existing surveillance among domestic and wild animals.

She appealed to the public to stay informed and avoid or postpone travelling to affected areas. "Recent travellers to the affected countries should be on high alert for the flu like symptoms and report to the nearest health facility," she said.  She advised the public to cover their noses and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing and throw used tissue in a trash can.

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