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UNICEF Training 750 in Luanda to Contain Marburg Virus

Recombinomics Commentary
March 28, 2005

>> Meanwhile, the Scouts of Angola have agreed to mobilise some 5,000 scouts throughout the country to support the dissemination of life-saving information. "Only in Luanda we are expecting to immediately train 750 scouts. By next week-end they should be equipped to distribute information to people and drivers on the street and advice them on how to prevent the hemorrhagic fever and what to do if they come across a suspected case," says Celso Malavoloneke, UNICEF Assistant to Programme Communication Officer.

Additional posters, stickers, brochures; radio and TV spots are under preparation to complete the communication efforts and expand them throughout the country.

A UNICEF emergency convoy containing 42 kits of essential drugs and gloves for the health workers arrived in Uige during the Easter week-end to ensure dispensaries are stocked up to treat the related symptoms and other common illnesses. Thanks to the rapid response of UNICEF's Copenhagen-based supplies team, badly needed disinfectants, intravenous liquids, masks, protection glasses, clothes and boots for health workers are on its way to Angola for prompt distribution to Uige and other provinces.

As Guy Clarysse, Head of Health Section in Angola explains "the epidemic is unfolding and we don't know yet the full effect it can have. The response needs to be firm, rapid and multilayered. While we make sure the ill are cared for, we need to protect the health personnel. Their commitment is crucial to maintain the faith of the population and ensure they seek help in the hospital and health centres in Uige."

Key organisations such as CDC, USAID, MSF Spain, Holland, Belgium and France are also part of the National Technical Commission set up to implement the emergency response to the Malburg epidemic. " <<

UNICEF's training of 750 in Luanda is a key component in the control of the spread of Marburg in Angola.  The breakout of the virus into the Angola capital is a concern.  Prior to this weekend, all reported cases were in Uige or patients who had traveled from Uige to Cabinda or Luanda.  However, a 12 year-old was admitted to Cacuaco suburban Health Centre, and then transferred to Americo Boa Vida Hospital in Luanda when she developed bleeding yesterday.

It is unclear how she became infected or who she infected prior to the transfer. The Marburg infections were initially concentrated in children, but recently eight health care workers have died.  An Italian pediatrician and a Vietnamese physician died in Luanda after returning from treating patients in Uige.

The added supplies of barrier protection items such as gloves, gowns, and masks, will help contain the spreading Marburg hemorrhagic fever virus, which is causing significant conern, and has killed 122 people.

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