Written by Harriet Mensah-Menson , 29/08/2020
Gabon is a Central African country that borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. With most of the country — about 75–85% — covered by forests; it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world (1). Gabon is one of a few Sub-Saharan countries that holds upper middle income status, with a gross domestic product per capita [the amount of a country’s wealth divided by the number of people in that country] at $5990 USD due to its wealth of natural resources(2).
Impressively, Gabon achieved universal healthcare coverage (UHC), as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO)*, within 10 years (3). In short, this was achieved by the expansion of Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie et de Garantie Sociale (CNAMGS) launched in 2008. Initially, it covered the most vulnerable people e.g. the elderly and over time, coverage was extended to government and private sector workers(4). The scheme is part funded through a compulsory health insurance levy and the costs of medical care is reimbursed up to 90%. Coverage includes doctor’s visits, dental care, laboratory exams and hospitalization. Therefore, making it possible for all citizens, regardless of socioeconomic status to have access to healthcare(3–5). Gabon, even at independence in 1960, pledged UHC in some form or another. It is inspiring to see Gabon make these promises a reality(4,6). In between then and now, Gabon has had to deal with an increase in mortality due to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and several Ebola outbreaks. In this blog post three major Ebola outbreaks during the 1990s in Gabon will be the focus of discussion.
About the disease — Ebola
Ebola haemorrhagic fever (commonly known as Ebola) is a virus that can be transmitted from animals to humans (that cause serious fever and bleeding (7,8). The virus was first recognised in 1976 when two unrelated outbreaks occurred 800km apart in the Northern Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. It was given the name ‘Ebola’ after the river at the epicentre of the 1976 outbreak (9–11).
Patients present with fever like symptoms which rapidly progress to extensive bleeding and death within 10 days of initial infection. It very contagious because…