New Delhi: A team of World Health Organisation (WHO) workers who played a key role in eradicating polio from states like Wes Bengal Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, has now taken the challenge to fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone in Africa.
The team, comprising of 29 people (mostly epidemiologists) were flown to Ebola's Ground Zero from New Delhi late last month by the WHO.
The health organisation said the team is on a three-month mission and will help train government health workers in the two countries to study and analyse how often the disease occurs in different groups and why.
The WHO team from India will look for affected persons and their contacts, and monitoring active cases through a sustained surveillance system.
Though Ebola cases in West Africa's outbreak region continue to drop sharply, infections are still occurring in some hot spots and posing a threat to other countries. So far the deadly virus has claimed the lives of 8,626 people with 3,605 confirmed deaths in Liberia and 3,145 in Sierra Leone.
Speaking to Indian Express, Pradeep Diwan, administrative officer of World health Organisation in India said, “We received a request from officers in charge of Ebola from our headquarters in Geneva on December 20 to send surveillance medical officers who have worked on our polio project to Africa.”
“They felt that we could help support the governments in the two African countries because of our experience in supporting health systems here in eradicating polio, which was seen as a near-impossible task, and the experience we have gained in implementing the public health policy on polio in India,” he added.
A senior official with the WHO's anti-polio drive in India said one of the main reasons for the spread of the outbreak at this scale” in Liberia and Sierra Leone” was due to the lack of intensive surveillance and a tracking system of patients.
“Given this situation, the Indian experience with polio was found to have similar management patterns, and is considered the most recent internationally recognised experience at this scale,” the official pointed out.