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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid