News / Africa

Ebola Experts Discuss Possible Cures, Vaccines

A health worker sprays disinfectant on the body of a man suspected of dying of Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia.
A health worker sprays disinfectant on the body of a man suspected of dying of Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia.
VOA News

Nearly 200 experts on Ebola are meeting in Switzerland to discuss possible cures and vaccines for the deadly disease, as the number of cases in West Africa continues to rise.

The World Health Organization says the two-day conference in Geneva is to review recent developments in possible treatments for Ebola and identify the most important actions that need to be taken.

On Thursday, the gathering’s opening day, the WHO called for drug companies and regulatory agencies to collaborate in speeding up development and access to promising, safe treatments to fight Ebola, Reuters reported.

FILE - WHO Director General Margaret Chan says Ebola has killed more than 1,900 in West Africa.FILE - WHO Director General Margaret Chan says Ebola has killed more than 1,900 in West Africa.
x
FILE - WHO Director General Margaret Chan says Ebola has killed more than 1,900 in West Africa.
FILE - WHO Director General Margaret Chan says Ebola has killed more than 1,900 in West Africa.

No cure or vaccine exists for the deadly disease, although an experimental serum, ZMapp, made by a U.S. company, has been given to a small number of patients, some of whom have survived.

ZMapp is among 10 experimental treatments that are being investigated for their potential in combatting the virus and its effects, the WHO said in literature distributed at the conference’s start. They include eight drugs and "two promising candidate vaccines," Reuters quoted the document as saying.

Vaccines are being developed by at least three firms. Human safety trials are scheduled to begin soon on vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and NewLink Genetics, Reuters reported, adding that Johnson & Johnson on Thursday said it would begin clinical trials next year.

The West African Ebola outbreak this year has killed more than 1,900 people and infected at least 3,500, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said Wednesday.

Chan had called for more support from wealthier countries. On Thursday, France’s foreign ministry announced it would send 20 health and medical specialists to West Africa, with the first five departing for the Ebola-striken region on Friday.

Doctor's death adds to toll

On Thursday, Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu said the Ebola virus has killed seven in his country, including a doctor from the southern city of Port Harcourt who died August 22. At least 18 people have been infected in the country, whose 174 million people make this Africa's most populous nation.

The WHO said the doctor's case is important, because he continued to treat patients for three days after coming down with Ebola symptoms August 11. He had numerous contacts with friends and relatives who visited his house after the birth of a baby.

The U.N. agency warned that "the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster" than the recent outbreak in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos.

Lagos experienced a small outbreak after a Liberian man with Ebola, Patrick Sawyer, flew into the city in late July. That outbreak was believed to be quickly contained, but the WHO said a man who had contact with Sawyer defied a quarantine and went to Port Harcourt, where he transmitted the virus to the doctor.

Nigeria's health minister said Thursday that authorities are monitoring nearly 300 people for Ebola symptoms.

An inadequate response

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the World Health Organization’s response to the crisis had been “hobbled” by years of budget cuts.

“Its outbreak and emergency response units have been slashed, veterans who led previous fights against Ebola and other diseases have left, and scores of positions have been eliminated — precisely the kind of people and efforts that might have helped blunt the outbreak in West Africa before it ballooned into the worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded,” the newspaper reported.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said it would take at least $600 million to provide the supplies needed to contain and combat Ebola’s spread.

"We must fight Ebola because there is huge anxiety for our populations along with significant social and economic consequences," Younoussa Ballo, secretary-general of Guinea's health ministry, told Reuters at Thursday's talks in Geneva. "Research must be speeded up to have medicines to confront this epidemic."

U.S. health officials say the key to containing the outbreak will be increasing the number of Ebola treatment centers, providing protective equipment to health care workers and monitoring the contacts of those infected.

Many health workers in the affected areas of West Africa lack sufficient protective gear for treating patients, the Associated Press reported. Most of the gear must be destroyed after use.

A nurse in Monrovia, Liberia, told the AP she and her colleagues had cut up old uniforms and fashioned them into approximations of protective gear, cutting holes in the fabric to enable them to see. But the eye holes permit fumes from chlorine bleach to burn their eyes, said the nurse, whose name was not disclosed.   

Health workers account for about 10 percent of Ebola deaths, the news service reported.  

Health officials across West Africa have warned people to avoid contact with the body fluids of Ebola patients, including those killed by the disease.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.


 

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mujidat from: ogun state
September 08, 2014 3:45 AM
please find solution to this ebola may almigty allah help us

by: Sulon K. Momolu
September 06, 2014 8:01 AM
Liberia is battling Ebola with gun. The first of its kind in the world.

by: Sam G. Ta-Kruah, Jr from: Ganta, Nimba, Liberia
September 05, 2014 4:05 AM
WHO please fight hard to contain this virus as precious lives are been lost for God sake

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs