Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

Malaysia’s Ebola preparedness 2014: enhancing capacity and capability

Saraswathi Bina Rai

Ministry of Health Malaysia


Introduction: Preparedness is the key to prevention and is imperative for response planning. Since advent of Ebola in 2014 beyond its usual boundaries, many countries have devised plans to contain the disease.  Our objective was to focus on human resources at local and national level and work on existing capacity and capability, to develop a comprehensive work plan to contain Ebola should it be imported into the country.

Methods: We built on generic capabilities: we reviewed current national capacity looking at human resource, available funds, existing guidelines for new and emerging diseases, and used that to identify minimum preparedness requirements as recommended by the World Health Organisation and strengthened that. 

Results:  Response plan for both clinical and public health developed using standard case definition, investigation and management protocols available and used for training. National focal point is in line with the International Health Regulations: coordination and incident command already in place. Public health surveillance and notification mechanism was well developed:  monitoring of situation in West Africa done daily and communicated to all states.  We ascertained laboratories to diagnose and specific hospitals to treat. Awareness and training on infection control to all health care workers including private implemented in stages. Stockpiles for personal protective equipment were updated. Simulation exercises carried out at most states testing various aspects of the plan including the mode of referral and management of the deceased. We then modified protocols on shortfalls detected.

Conclusion:  Malaysia’s preparedness plan is comprehensive. With international travel Ebola may be imported here but we are confident of quick and effective response in detecting and containing the disease. Recommend a detailed generic risk assessment be conducted for the country.

Keywords: Ebola, Preparedness