Zimbabwe can't conduct Ebola tests - ministry

Cape Town - Zimbabwe's health ministry has reportedly admitted it is not well equipped to deal with Ebola in the event of an outbreak in that southern African country.

News Day reported on Friday that the Zimbabwean government had no capacity to conduct tests to detect the deadly disease.

According to the report, officials in the ministry of health and child welfare said specimens from suspected cases of Ebola would be referred to South African laboratories for verification.

The Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had already organised a courier service which would take any suspected Ebola case specimen to South Africa, the report said.

This comes as a Daily News report said earlier this week that Zimbabwe’s state of preparedness on the Ebola outbreak had been branded as worrisome by aid agencies.

Economic sanctions

Health experts warned that a lot needed to be done in terms of information dissemination and infrastructure development at hospitals to quarantine patients in case of an outbreak amid economic hardships and poorly-stocked state hospitals, the report said.

Ebola has claimed 1 552 in West Africa, according to the WHO, with 3 069 suspected or confirmed cases in the region.

The disease causes massive haemorrhaging and has a fatality rate of up to 90%. It is transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids.

Reports say that Zimbabwe's health sector has been affected by brain-drain and funding constraints over the past 14 years.

President Robert Mugabe blames the poor state of health facilities on what he terms the West’s illegal economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States.