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WHO helps African countries to take precautionary measures against SARS

WHO helps African countries to take precautionary measures against SARS

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is working with countries in Africa to tighten their health surveillance systems to ensure prompt detection and prevention of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"We are working with [African] Member States for the institution of precautionary measures to protect people in our region where healthcare systems are weak, and several millions are infected with HIV," WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Ebrahim Samba, said yesterday in Brazzaville, Congo.

Though the region has so far only had one probable case of SARS – reported early last month in South Africa – WHO said it has urged African countries to ensure the availability of facilities at airports and other points of entry to promptly identify and quarantine suspected cases. A number of countries have already taken adequate precautionary measures.

Dr. Samba said globalization and the subsequent ability of people to travel internationally within hours presents an opportunity for infectious diseases to spread efficiently. Accordingly, all countries have received travel guidelines to areas where SARS is currently ranging.

The latest statistics on the global outbreak indicate a total of 5,663 probable cases and 372 deaths.

Meanwhile, WHO plans to hold an international scientific meeting in Geneva from 17 to 16 June to review the epidemiological, clinical management and laboratory findings on the respiratory disease and to discuss global control strategies.