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SA seeks SD’s advice on swine flu

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By WELCOME DLAMINI - SWAZI TIMES-14-Sep-2009

MBABANE – The South African government has sought advice from Swaziland on how to deal with the influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

Minister of Health Benedict Xaba said he had been contacted by his South African counterpart, Aaron Motsoaledi, who wanted to know the style that Swaziland had adopted in dealing with the Influenza that has killed close to 20 people in the neighbouring state, while the kingdom has recorded no such fatalities as yet.

Xaba said this gesture from South Africa should make local health workers proud, in fact, the minister said they should pat themselves on the back because this demonstrated that they were dealing quite well with the pandemic. Addressing over 100 attendees of a seminar on the influenza A/H1N1 virus last Thursday, Xaba said: “This morning I received a fax message from the South African minister of Health who wanted to know our style on how to cope with the illness.

“This shows that we’re handling the situation quite well and should therefore pat ourselves on the back.” The minister said they would soon be responding to the SA minister’s fax, while sources within the Health Ministry have disclosed that Deputy Director of Health Services (public health) Rejoice Nkambule had been mandated with handling the process. “The minister has entrusted Nkambule with the responsibility of ensuring that the necessary advise and any other information is prepared for the South African minister,” sources said.

Success

Minister Xaba noted that the fight against the influenza would not have been a success without the commitment that has been shown by the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) team, led by national coordinator Masitsela Mhlanga.

“During my trip to Rwanda I presented the work of the EPR and it was quite impressive. I have to say that I’m very proud of the team and the work they are doing,” Xaba said. With regards to the media the minister said: “I should also thank the media for its contribution in educating the public about the influenza because without them the message would not have reached the people.”

The minister also recognised the role that Members of Parliament have played in the fight against the pandemic. “Even though they bombarded me with questions regarding the influenza, these helped the ministry in drawing up guidelines of dealing with the pandemic,” Xaba added. To deal with the Influenza A/H1N1 pandemic, the Ministry of Health wants to educate at least 80 per cent of the country’s health care workers.

The ministry has targeted equipping the health workers with relevant information and skills to deal with the influe-nza. This will be achieved through a number of seminars, and phase one of such activities was concluded on Friday at the Mountain Inn, where over 500 health workers participated over four days. “This is only phase one of these activities, subsequent phases will be conducted as we will need to cover more health care workers with the skills and information,” health minister Xaba said.

He continued: “However, let me point out that for better preparedness to respond to pandemic influenza A/H1N1/2009, as a health sector, our desire is to equip at least 80 per cent of all health care workers with the information and skills.”


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