The fast spreading deadly viral disease Ebola is likely to find way into Bangladesh through hundreds - if not thousands -- of its nationals working and staying in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the two African countries that bore the brunt of the so far untreatable ailment - leading to unavoidable deaths.
As per estimate of World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola has caused more than 4,000 deaths so far, mostly in African countries, and is spreading throughout the world. This week, an American Ebola patient died in the U.S. and unconfirmed reports said couple of others have been detected carrying Ebola that has sent an alarm even in the most medically advanced states.
Bangladesh is not also out of Ebola's reach - though concerned authorities claim there has not been any Ebola case found in the country yet. But, different sources quoted by newspapers said several hundred Bangladeshis working in Liberia and Sierra Leone have come back home in last couple of months fleeing from the Ebola scare. Among them were BRAC employees posted in those countries. They reported to respective authorities about the health dangers they faced there and why they chose to leave. But the government's health department seems still not fully awake - so much so that a name-sake Ebola detection camp (EDC) established at the Dhaka airport does not perform its duty and let Africa-back passengers walk away without health screening. This sort of negligence by the EDCs could be extremely dangerous for the people and the country.
In three or four cases, returned passengers were tracked down to their homes - after media reported they have left the airport with no one stopping them for a health check -- and tested for Ebola. They tested negative, said follow up reports quoting the local administrator in a southern district.
Besides setting up the EDCs (which do not work), the government so far did nothing to make people aware about the dangers of Ebola - a disease yet unknown to them (and we wish they are never affected by it) but certainly are not out of Ebola's reach. People returning from Ebola-hit countries go home to remote towns or villages across the country and carry a risk for people around them. As a result, they may be caught by the disease quite unaware of it and would likely die.
Heath specialists and researchers have been trying frantically to invent treatment of Ebola but with no success yet. They say Ebola poses one of the greatest health risks to tens of millions of people - mostly unaware and to be taken off guard.
The government should, therefore, immediately take strong measures and firm steps for their implementation to prevent the Ebola "bomb" that, unless checked before landfall, could shatter the country's health sector.
Not only EDCs and lame-duck campaign in the media, Ebola should be fought on a war footing. Detection tools must be of world standard, those who use them must be properly trained and any detection must be followed up quickly with highest available measures.
The authorities should make arrangement for quarantining the Ebola patients (if any) and keep other people at a safe distance from them. Doctors and nurses treating and caring Ebola patients also should adopt maximum precaution for themselves.
Apart from health screening at the airports, the government should take similar measures at land transits at borders with India and Myanmar. People migrating through the borders may carry Ebola and spread it back home - triggering a desperate health situation.
We believe there is no time to waste.