altEpidemic outbreaks require an institutional response which, based on the needs, integrates the health sector with other areas, political experts and National Disaster Offices.

The epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) currently ongoing in West Africa, which was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Importance under the International Health Regulations (IHR), requires preparedness measures from the authorities of the countries of the Americas. These measures should target the prevention of local transmission of the disease in the possible event of the introduction of an imported case in the Region.

This is why, on top of being an opportunity to test established plans, procedures and protocols and assess existing resources - whether clinical, laboratory, health care services, operational, public health - the preparation to face the possible importation of one or more cases of Ebola virus disease requires the practical implementation of the national capacities developed as part of the application of the IHR, focusing on:

  • the detection of cases that match the case definition of EVD among travelers; and the isolation of susceptible or confirmed EVD cases in designated hospitals, while respecting the standard precautions for infection prevention and control;
  • the identification and surveillance of persons that have been in contact with susceptible or confirmed EVD cases;
  • the sensitization of and communication of risk to the population on the EVD;
  • the coordination with specific sectors (chancery, migration, aviation, etc.). It would opportune to update the contact information of responsible individuals for each health technical area and other sectors involved.

In order to avoid any delay in handling the possible importation of susceptible or confirmed case of EVD, it is paramount that Disaster Offices of the Ministries of Health identify the key aspects of inter-institutional coordination - particularly in logistics - which, should they not function efficiently, could compromise the effectiveness of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the Ebola virus.

For more information and resources about the Ebola virus disease, please refer to the dedicated page (link).