South Africa's response to Ebola outbreak

Brand South Africa and the Department of Communications yesterday convened a high level discussion with stakeholders on how the country is responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The session, hosted in Pretoria, was attended by representatives from the Departments of Health, Tourism and Communications, South African Tourism, Wits University, Proudly SA, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) and South Africa Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

It was emphasized during the discussions that South Africa remains Ebola free and continues to conduct domestic surveillance to ensure that our citizens and visitors are safe.

The experts at the session maintained that South Africa is, and will remain, at low risk of having an Ebola outbreak.

South Africa's Domestic Response to the Ebola Outbreak

South Africa has, since the outbreak of the disease in West Africa implemented a robust plan to ensure that the country remains Ebola free.

This includes:

  • The vigilant monitoring of travelers at all ports of entry (air, land and sea);
  • Temperature screening of all passengers at airports;
  • The use of health questionnaires;
  • The preparedness of designated health facilities in the private and public health sector to manage a suspected or infected individual with Ebola; and
  • Extensive training has been rolled out to frontline health professionals at the ports of entry as well as the designated health facilities.

How is South Africa playing its part in the international fight against Ebola

Diagnostic laboratory support in Sierra Leone

South Africa has since August 2014 been running a diagnostic laboratory in Sierra Leone to assist with the diagnosis of Ebola in infected individuals. The laboratory is staffed by South African officials from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and teams are rotated every five weeks. In addition, local Sierra Leone personnel work alongside the South Africans and are being trained to run these diagnostic facilities.


South Africa's Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, hosted a meeting of SADC Ministers of Health in South Africa in August 2014. The meeting aimed at agreeing on the process to standardise measures to deal with an outbreak of Ebola in the region. It was agreed at this meeting that South Africa's National Institute of Communicable Diseases would be the regional centre of excellence to diagnose Ebola.

A second Ministerial meeting was held in September 2014 during which SADC Ministers of Health agreed on the co-ordination of travel measures to be implemented and that South Africa would intensify its screening processes at ports of entry.

Infection control interventions

South Africa is producing sterilising units (autoclaves) which will assist in the sterilisation of medical waste and thus prevent the spread of the Ebola infection. These units can function in low resource settings. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has introduced these units into the affected countries as part of the UNDP's Ebola response mechanism.

Financial support

South Africa has mobilized its private and public sector to raise approximately R50 million for the international Health and Humanitarian Response in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In short the meeting agreed that South Africa is ready to deal with any possible instance of Ebola infection as the country has all measures in place to contain the spread of the virus.

South Africa remains safe and open for business.


Brand South Africa


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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