Pakistan is finally responding to the threat posed by Ebola virus, as the Ministry of National Health Services revealed the steps it had taken to ensure that the country remained secure and Ebola-free. Other than setting up isolation units in hospitals located in all major cities, EVD counters have been set up at airports to scan passengers arriving in the country from locations deemed dangerous - mainly African countries. In the absence of systems which can be deemed suitable to effectively deal with an EVD outbreak, Pakistan’s best chances lie in preventing the deadly virus from entering its territory. For this purpose, no errors, human or otherwise, can be allowed to occur. It is critical to check the travel history of arriving passengers in detail rather than looking solely for the location they are immediately arriving from. Such cannot be accomplished without satisfactory co-operation between the health ministry and the immigration department. It is also important to ask valid questions, as advised by health professionals, to verify what cannot be ascertained from travel documents alone.

It must also be kept in mind that people don’t travel to Pakistan solely by air. They travel through land and water too. What measures have been taken by the concerned ministry to scan people arriving in the country through its ports? People do travel to African countries and elsewhere via ships, and present just as imminent a danger as those arriving on airports. It would be in error to ignore such an important aspect of international travel. Other than ports, there is also a need to establish EVD counters on borders for people coming in through Afghanistan, Iran, China and India. Knowing the porous nature of our borders and our inability to prevent illegal entry, it should be accepted that we will remain exposed. While we take measures to prevent EVD from entering the country, similar efforts should be aimed at setting up suitable systems to prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario. We can learn from Nigeria and other countries currently fighting against EVD, and doing so rather successfully. It is hoped that those entrusted with the enormous responsibility of keeping the country Ebola-free are fully aware of their critical role and will act accordingly.