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Press Releases

Ebola Virus Disease

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Background

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveller only) to Nigeria, and by land (1 traveller) to Senegal.

The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability. On August 8, the WHO Director-General declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

A separate, unrelated Ebola outbreak began in Boende, Equateur, an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus family Filoviridae includes 3 genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are 5 species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 west African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species. 

How is it transmitted?

  • Eating dead animals especially monkeys and bats.
  • Direct contact with wounds, body fluids like blood, semen, sweat, saliva and vomitus from an infected person or animal.
  • Using skin piercing instruments that have been used by an infected person.

 

How long does it take for one to become sick?
The incubation period or period from infection to onset of symptoms is from 2 to 21 days (most commonly 8 to 10 days). The infected person becomes contagious (or can transmit the disease to another person) once they begin to show symptoms.
 
What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola?
  • Sudden onset of fever, headache and weakness.
  • Muscle pain, skin rash.
  • Vomiting, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarhhoea.
  • Jaundice, severe weight loss, mental confusion and sometimes bleeding through body openings, i.e, nose, gums, eyes, ears, anus.

Meanwhile, what should those who travelled to, or through West Africa do

Go to a health facility where they should be screened or checked whether they are carrying the Ebola virus or not.

Who is at risk of getting the Ebola Virus?

  • People who travelled to, or through the countries in West Africa where the outbreak has been confirmed.
  • People who had direct contact with secretions of an infected persons.
  • People eating bush meat from animals that died from unknown causes including bats and monkeys.

How can Ebola be prevented?

  • Wash hands regularly after contact with other people or animals.
  • Avoid direct contact with fluids, blood, saliva, vomitus, urine and stool from an infected person. Use protective materials like gloves, goggles.
  • Avoid eating animals that have died from unknown causes, e.g monkeys, antelopes and bats
  • Do not use skin piercing instruments that have been used on an infected person.

Remember

  • Ebola is a serious disease with a high fatality rate.
  • It spreads through contact with fluids and secretions from an infected person.
  • Practice hand washing with soap and clean water after getting in contact with any suspected person always.
  • Ensure proper surveillance of people who have been in contact with a suspected, confirmed or those who died from Ebola Virus Disease immediately.
  • An infected person becomes contagious (or can transmit the disease to another person) once they begin to show signs and symptoms.

 

 

 

2013 World Mental Health Day Commemoration

The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that Malawi will commemorate the World Mental Health day which falls on 10th October every year under the theme “Mental Health and Older People”.

Older adults face special health challenges. Many of the very old people lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, frailty or other physical or mental health problems and require some form of long-term care. Mental health challenges faced by the elderly are multifaceted including under-identification by health care professionals and older people themselves as well as reluctance by older people themselves to seek help.

Social, demographic, psychological, and biological factors contribute to a person’s mental health status. Almost all these factors are particularly pertinent amongst older adults. Factors such as poverty, social isolation, loss of independence, loneliness and losses of different kinds, can affect mental health and general health of the elderly. Older adults are more likely to experience events such as bereavements or physical disability that affect emotional well-being and can result in poorer mental health. On the other hand, social support and family interactions can boost the dignity of older adults, and are likely to have a protective role in the mental health outcomes of this population.

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Commemoration Of The 2013 African Traditional Medicines Day

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and German International Corporation (GIZ) and other partners will as part of the commemoration of the AFRICAN TRADITIONAL MEDICINES DAY embark on planting Medicinal Trees under the theme “A DECADE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINES DEVELOPMENT”.

The traditional Medicines day is usually cerebrated on the 31st of August of each year in order to promote traditional medicines development, practice and research through the evidenced based approach.

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Maiden “MEDIA for LIFE” Conference

 The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Association of Malawi Media Owners (AMMO) will hold the first Media for Life Conference on Wednesday, July 31 at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe in the effort to harness the potential of the mass media in promoting health in Malawi.  The Media for Life conference aims at nurturing effective media partnership and involvement in the health and wellbeing of Malawians.

The one-day Media for Life Conference, will bring together owners and senior managers of local media houses and key players in the health sector, including government, donors and other health implementing organizations in the country.

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