The Tanzanian government on Thursday denied withholding any information on suspected cases of Ebola from the World Health Organisation (WHO), reported Reuters. Tanzania shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where more than 2,100 people have died in an outbreak of the disease.
“Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally,” Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu told journalists in Dar es Salaam. “This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide.”
She said all the reports suggesting that Tanzania has not been transparent about suspected cases of Ebola and is not sharing information with the WHO are completely false and should be ignored.
“Information spreading about Ebola here is just rumours which everyone should ignore… Instead of spreading rumours and expressing mistrust, our priority for now is preparedness and response in case the disease is tested positive.”
Mwalimu said since the Ebola epidemic began in DRC last year, Tanzania had identified 28 suspected cases of the disease, including two in September, but all had tested negative. However, she acknowledged that the Ebola threat is real in Tanzania as the country shares a boundary with the DRC.
The health minister said the country will follow international protocols, including reporting to WHO, “if there is an Ebola case.” She added that the Tanzania government is committed to implement international health regulations in a transparent manner.
The clarification came after the World Health Organization issued a statement last month accusing Tanzania of refusing to share information. The international body claimed lack of information from Tanzania made it difficult to assess potential risks. In wake of the WHO report, the United States and Britain issued travel warnings to its citizens against Tanzania amid persisting Ebola concerns.
The current Ebola outbreak in DRC is the second-deadliest in history.