News / Africa

Health Ministers: Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Needs Stronger Response

Health Ministers: Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Needs Stronger Responsei
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 02, 2014 11:35 PM
Health ministers from across West Africa are attending an emergency conference in Ghana to discuss the regional outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The World Health Organization says the highly infectious disease has killed more than 400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Health Ministers: Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Needs Stronger Response
Henry Ridgwell

Health ministers from across West Africa are attending an emergency conference in Ghana to discuss the regional outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The World Health Organization says the highly infectious disease has killed more than 400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone police and medical workers man checkpoints on the outskirts of Kenema -- the site of an Ebola outbreak that is spreading across West Africa.

Authorities are forcing people to test for the disease. Some victims try to avoid detection, preferring to die in secret.

The outbreak is the worst since the disease was identified in the 1970s, according to Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Ebola outbreaks, deaths in AfricaEbola outbreaks, deaths in Africa
x
Ebola outbreaks, deaths in Africa
Ebola outbreaks, deaths in Africa

"The outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented in the history of Ebola outbreaks because it involves three countries, at least, capital cities, multiple sources, and that will make it far more difficult to control," he said.

Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea. It is spread through contact with the blood or other fluids of infected people.

Misinformation, porous borders

Doctors say a lack of understanding is contributing to its rapid spread. Porous borders between the affected countries also make it difficult to contain.

Dr. Shek Moar Khan of Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone said families often bury victims without telling anyone.

“By the time people are dead with the Ebola, they are more infectious than ever. So if they take care of their burial on their own, 10 more will be infected,” said Khan.

In neighboring Liberia, nurse Elizabeth Smith lies bleeding on a hospital bed. She contracted the Ebola virus from her patients. Her colleagues are doing what they can to help; but her chances of survival are about 10 percent.

Sense of urgency

District health officer Philip Azumah said Liberia cannot cope alone.

“We are calling on the international community to come and support the ministry. Right now we can't do it. We need international support,” he said.

But it’s not just medical help that’s needed. Communities across the region need urgent education about the disease, said Piot.

“Fear of the virus and distrust of authorities and of the health system probably is as bad and as dangerous as the virus itself," he said. "And what I think is needed now is a massive information campaign, but not just facts, but involving community leaders, the media, the local media, more than disease experts.”

Health workers bury the dead in unmarked graves in the middle of the bush. The disease is so infectious that disinfectant is sprayed every step of the way. The workers’ protective clothing is buried along with the body.

The death toll from the outbreak is growing. Doctors warn that the response to date has been far from adequate.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: babalola biodun from: Lagos, Nigeria
July 03, 2014 3:31 AM
The world Health Organization need to come for our aid in West Africa. Ebola kills more faster than HIV so,we need Medical experts to help find lasting solution, before the whole of West African contact the deadly disease. Thanks.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs