Health workers in Zambia are training to deal with Ebola amid fears it will spread from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
More than 100 people in DRC have died from the contagious fever since the most recent outbreak began at the start of August.
Now Zambia, which borders the stricken country, is preparing in case it has to fight its own deadly epidemic.
Staffs are learning how to recognise signs of Ebola, how to treat patients and how to stop the infection spreading in case it is transmitted by travellers.
The government is focusing on regions of the country which are closest to DRC, where a now months-long outbreak has killed 106 people.
Ebola has killed almost two thirds (65 per cent) of the 162 people confirmed to have had it since the DRC’s epidemic began on August 1, SciDev.Net reported.
And fears surrounding the disease have been heightened since a devastating outbreak in western Africa in 2014 killed more than 11,000 people.
‘We do not want a repeat of the tragedy that hit the Western part of our continent in 2014,’ said Victor Mukonka, the director of the Zambia National Public Health Institute.
‘Having trained rapid response teams at all levels assures capacity for any community, and we encourage all states to take up this strategy.’
Some 216 health workers were trained in the country’s north-western provinces in September, with another 86 in the north in August.
Doctors, nurses, environmental and public health officers, pharmacists and laboratory staff have all been included in the education programme.
They are taught how to explain the infection to local people, how to collect and transport specimens for testing, and how to prevent the virus spreading.
The programme is designed to give workers the ability to set up a rapid response in the event of Ebola beginning to spread.
This could happen if the virus was brought into the country by a traveller or a refugee from military fighting in the DRC.
Around 50,000 people fleeing violence in the country are thought to have travelled to Zambia, according to the United Nations.
Both Zambia and the DRC should work together to monitor the virus and movement of people across the border, said Nathan Bakyaita, the World Health Organization representative for Zambia.
The public health institute’s Mr Mukonka told SciDev.Net: ‘It is important that Africa takes ownership and leads in addressing matters of health and other determinants affecting the continent’.