October 16, 2014

Ebola here and there

There is a lot of information about the few infected with Ebola in the US and Europe and what the health authorities are doing to isolate every patient, give them a proper medical treatment, and quarantine people who may have been in close contact with them, but no so much about the real core of the problem which is the huge outbreak in Africa and the lack of resources to fight against it, on the ground, and avoid a spread of the virus. With 10,000 new cases per week expected by december and more than 4,500 deaths so far, people working in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone need money and resources, and as soon as possible to try to contain the outbreak and avoid the spread to more countries. Meanwhile the World Health Organisation said to the BBC that an outbreak in Europe or the US is unlikely, thanks to their advanced health systems.

Recently, the The Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Anthony Banbury, said to the members of the Security Council that by 1 December in Africa they expect 10,000 new cases per week, meaning that they’ll need 7,000 beds. But they expect to have only 4,300 beds in treatment centres by that date. Facilities, as well as trained, paid and properly equipped staff are urgently needed to care for people, he said.

He also said that in urban areas where the disease was spreading most rapidly, some 15 diagnostic labs are needed, each able to process 100 samples per day. The number of safe burial teams have to increase from 50 to 500. They need 1,000 vehicles, protective suits, chlorine sprayers, training and salaries — all before 1 December. More contact tracing is needed, requiring more staff, medical support, security arrangements, motorcycles, generators, laptops and bandwidth.

He said the epidemic could be stopped with more and immediate involvement of non-governmental organizations and Governments, notably to build treatment facilities, provide logistics and transport support, and money to pay for a rapid acceleration in operational response. The penalty for delay was enormous, and for failure — inconceivable and unacceptable. “We must act now,” he stressed, according to a press release.

Other UN officials and the representatives of Liberia Sierra Leone and Guinea expressed their concern about the virus spread and the consequences the crisis has in political instability and risk against what they have gained in the path of peace these last years, because of the fear and mistrust of the people in their Governments because of the lack of resources and the ignorance. They said they need help, and they need it fast.

The WHO explained how in Liberia, health workers were attacked by hostile local communities, and a doctor had to go to talk with the chiefs to convince them that Ebola is a disease, not a curse or a Government plot, and that people sick must go to the hospital.

The WHO stressed also the need to support neighbouring countries that can be at risk of an outbreak.

About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.


Africa, Americas, Europe


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