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Countries Urged to Set Up Emergency Disease Response Centers

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, Georgia.

The World Health Organisation and the United States Centers For Disease Control And Prevention say there is need to set up emergency response centers worldwide, especially in African countries, in order to tackle major disease outbreaks.

Participants at a health briefing held in Washington DC on Thursday on disease outbreaks and global health security organised by the UN Foundation and the US Centers For Disease Control And Prevention highlighted the need for setting up emergency response centers as a proactive way of preparing for major disease outbreaks like ebola and cholera.

The World Health Organisation’s assistant director general general, Keiji Fukuda, told the gathering that African countries, including Zimbabwe, can benefit from some of the experiences faced by other countries that have experienced major disease outbreaks by stepping up their level of preparedness despite various challenges.

Dr. Fukuda says the element of surprise has largely been blamed for late response in dealing with major disease outbreaks in places like West Africa and East Asia.

Report by Marvellous Mhlanga Nyahuye
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Scott Dowell, senior advisor, Global Health Security of the Centers For Disease Control, told the meeting that despite political differences between the United States and other countries, his organisation still works in such countries to help prevent and contain major disease outbreaks.

Dowell added that the basis of the Global Health Security agenda is to help countries in the event of a disease outbreak like the cholera epidemic experienced in Zimbabwe in 2008, which killed thousands of people.

Dr. Portia Manhanganzira, Director Of Zimbabwe’s Department Of Epidemiology in the Ministry Of Health and Child Welfare, says the country is still carrying out some surveillance to ensure that any cholera outbreak is detected early to avoid huge casualties.

The World Health Organisation further noted that infectious dieseases have little respect for national borders and can quickly spread from one country to another hence the need to be proactive.