News / Health

    West Africa Ends 2015 Declared Ebola-free

    West Africa Finally Ebola-Freei
    X
    Carol Pearson
    December 31, 2015 1:54 AM
    Ebola claimed 3,000 more lives in 2015, but by the end of the year, the virus was defeated in West Africa. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    West Africa Finally Ebola-Free
    Carol Pearson

    West Africa experienced several highs and lows in 2015 in its fight against Ebola.

    There was elation when Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May, but defeat when it returned and claimed more victims, although the virus was quickly suppressed. Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November.

    In December, two years after a toddler died in the forested region of Guinea, the World Health Organization declared that country free of Ebola.

    Dr. Bruce Aylward, the WHO's special representative for Ebola, made the announcement just before the year's end.

    "As of today, for the first time in two years, we can say that all three countries have stopped the original chains of transmission," he said.

    In a news release, he cautioned that the coming months would be "absolutely critical.”  The release said, “The time-limited persistence of virus in survivors, which may give rise to new Ebola flares in 2016, makes it imperative that partners continue to support these countries."

    FILE - A health worker checks the temperature of a girl at the entrance to a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone.
    FILE - A health worker checks the temperature of a girl at the entrance to a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone.

    Ready to respond

    The WHO said it would maintain surveillance and outbreak response teams in the three countries through 2016. Ebola killed more than 11,000 people and sickened more than 28,000 across 10 countries, but the majority of the victims were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health warn that the virus can re-emerge. "All of us in the public health sector believe that there will be other Ebola outbreaks, and that’s the reason why we need to be prepared," he told VOA.

    Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview in 2014 that when all was said and done, the goal was to leave Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with stronger health systems.  

    "What we hope will happen coming out of this is that we not only stop this outbreak, but that we put into place the labs, staff and emergency response capacity to stop the next Ebola or the next health threat," Frieden said.

    Following the WHO statement, Frieden described the development as a "tremendous achievement for Guineans and all the partners who helped them reach this milestone."

    Frieden, too, cautioned that even in the celebration of Ebola's defeat, "we must not let down our guard. It is important to build an even stronger public health system ready for possible future cases of Ebola, and work to prevent and control other diseases.”

    A vaccine against Ebola, proved effective in human trials, has given public health officials hope to confront future outbreaks.
    A vaccine against Ebola, proved effective in human trials, has given public health officials hope to confront future outbreaks.

    Vaccine now available

    Experts agreed that there may be a few flare-ups with a small number of cases, but they do not expect another epidemic because now there's a vaccine that can stop Ebola.

    No scientist likes to say something is 100 percent effective, but Dr. John-Arne Røttingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said, "Based on the number of individuals and the number of cases that we have seen, there is 100 percent protection in those vaccinated" against Ebola. Røttingen was one of the co-authors of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine trial that started in early 2015.

    In the case of future Ebola flare-ups, health officials plan to vaccinate all of a patient's contacts, and then the contacts of those people, if warranted.  

    The World Health Organization says its goal now is to revitalize key public health programs in the three countries, especially in the areas of maternal and child health.

    Separately, the World Bank Group announced it has mobilized $1.62 billion in financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim issued a statement saying the organization is committed to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia rebuild their economies and strengthen their health systems.  

    "We will do everything we can to help these countries and the world prevent another deadly pandemic,” the statement said.

    You May Like

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Christ.
    December 31, 2015 9:17 AM
    I give thanks to God. Ebola is gone and I pray not to return .

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora