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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (1)
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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid