Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) convened on August 6-7, 2014 regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak.
The Committee agreed that the virus is indeed a public health risk to other states and that coordination between international communities must be done to stop the virus from spreading.
Here are some of the advice that the Committee provided to address the Ebola outbreak:
States with Ebola transmission:
- The Head of State should declare a national emergency; personally address the nation to provide information on the situation, the steps being taken to address the outbreak and the critical role of the community in ensuring its rapid control; provide immediate access to emergency financing to initiate and sustain response operations; and ensure all necessary measures are taken to mobilize and remunerate the necessary health care workforce.
- States should activate their national disaster/emergency management mechanisms and establish an emergency operation centre, under the authority of the Head of State, to coordinate support across all partners, and across the information, security, finance and other relevant sectors, to ensure efficient and effective implementation and monitoring of comprehensive Ebola control measures.
- States should ensure that there is a large-scale and sustained effort to fully engage the community – through local, religious and traditional leaders and healers – so communities play a central role in case identification, contact tracing and risk education; the population should be made fully aware of the benefits of early treatment.
- It is essential that a strong supply pipeline be established to ensure that sufficient medical commodities, especially personal protective equipment (PPE), are available to those who appropriately need them, including health care workers, laboratory technicians, cleaning staff, burial personnel and others that may come in contact with infected persons or contaminated materials.
- States should ensure health care workers receive: adequate security measures for their safety and protection; timely payment of salaries and, as appropriate, hazard pay; and appropriate education and training on IPC, including the proper use of PPEs.
- States should ensure that: treatment centres and reliable diagnostic laboratories are situated as closely as possible to areas of transmission; that these facilities have adequate numbers of trained staff, and sufficient equipment and supplies relative to the caseload; that sufficient security is provided to ensure both the safety of staff and to minimize the risk of premature removal of patients from treatment centres; and that staff are regularly reminded and monitored to ensure compliance with IPC.
- States should conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection.
- There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.
- States should ensure funerals and burials are conducted by well-trained personnel, with provision made for the presence of the family and cultural practices, and in accordance with national health regulations, to reduce the risk of Ebola infection. The cross-border movement of the human remains of deceased suspect, probable or confirmed EVD cases should be prohibited unless authorized in accordance with recognized international biosafety provisions.
- States should ensure that appropriate medical care is available for the crews and staff of airlines operating in the country, and work with the airlines to facilitate and harmonize communications and management regarding symptomatic passengers under the IHR (2005), mechanisms for contact tracing if required and the use of passenger locator records where appropriate.
- States with EVD transmission should consider postponing mass gatherings until EVD transmission is interrupted.
- There should be no general ban on international travel or trade; restrictions outlined in these recommendations regarding the travel of EVD cases and contacts should be implemented.
- States should provide travelers to Ebola affected and at-risk areas with relevant information on risks, measures to minimize those risks, and advice for managing a potential exposure.
- States should be prepared to detect, investigate, and manage Ebola cases; this should include assured access to a qualified diagnostic laboratory for EVD and, where appropriate, the capacity to manage travelers originating from known Ebola-infected areas who arrive at international airports or major land crossing points with unexplained febrile illness.
- The general public should be provided with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.
- States should be prepared to facilitate the evacuation and repatriation of nationals (e.g. health workers) who have been exposed to Ebola.
The Committee’s advice have been issued and issued as Temporary Recommendations to reduce the international spread of of Ebola.
Read more about WHO’s statement here: WHO Statement on the Meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee Regarding the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa