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Swine Flu - ECOWAS Urges Member States

May 6, 2009, 5:02 AM

The ECOWAS Commission has urged Member States to take appropriate measures to enable them respond to the prevailing health crisis arising from the Swine Influenza A/H1N1 viral attack that has been reported in some other parts of the world.

The Commission advises citizens of the region and Member States to be on alert and undertake various preventive measures. Among them are:

1 That the sub-regional Epi-surveillance and Laboratory networks be put

on alert and ensure the implementation of the ECOWAS Mechanism of Prevention and

Control of Avian Influenza and other Transboundary Diseases (TADs) to keep swine influenza at bay in the ECOWAS sub-region;

2. That all relevant agencies at the national units are advised to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases of swine influenza, while encouraging farmers to exhibit high levels of animal husbandary practices and proper nutrition on their farms;

3. Member States are advised to activate their Pandemic Preparedness Plan and contact the World Food Programme Regional Office and WHO for assistance where necessary;

4. It is prudent people to delay international travels which are not necessary and those developing symptoms following international travels should seek medical attention in line with guidance from medical authorities;

5. That citizens should ensure high levels of personal hygiene for themselves and their families. Individuals are also advised to wash hands thoroughly with antiseptics, soap and water on regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness such as frequent sneezing, cold, flu, headaches etc;

6. Individuals are advised to have in their possession face-masks especially when going into public places;

7. Member States are advised to avoid restrictions of regular travels or closure of borders; and

8. Non-essential travel to areas with reported cases of infection should be avoided.

Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected cases to the nearest medical centre for prompt action.

The ECOWAS Commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to the development of the livestock sub-sector in the sub-region but observes that the influenza event underscores the crucial importance of maintaining quality veterinary services capable of detecting relevant emerging and re-emerging pathogens that have potential public health impact. Veterinarians are advised to ensure the continued development of good governance in veterinary service delivery in compliance with international standards.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission urges citizens to remain calm and continue to go about their normal businesses and exercise maximum vigilance during this period.