News / Health

WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak a Global Health Emergency

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014.
A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be a public health emergency of international concern.  A WHO committee of experts is calling for a coordinated international response to stop this deadly disease at its source and prevent it from spreading to other countries.  
 
After sifting through a mountain of information and evidence over the past two days, the WHO emergency committee unanimously declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an "extraordinary event," which demands extraordinary measures to bring it under control.
 
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, says recommendations issued by the committee aim to contain existing outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia and to prevent further international spread.

In this photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz militIn this photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz milit
x
In this photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz milit
In this photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz milit

"The declaration of a public health emergency of international concern alerts the world to the need for high vigilance for possible cases of Ebola virus disease, but by no means implies that all countries or even many countries will see Ebola cases.  Only a small part of the African continent is currently affected," she said.
 
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and worst in history.  Latest WHO figures put the number of cases at more than 1,700, including 932 deaths.  The disease has spread to Nigeria, where two people have died, and possibly to Saudi Arabia, where one person suspected of having the disease has died.  Two U.S. aid workers infected in Liberia are being treated in the United States.
 
WHO notes it is particularly difficult to bring the disease under control because the three heavily infected West African countries are all emerging from civil conflicts that have left them with weak, fragile health systems.
 


WHO Assistant Director-General, Keiji Fukuda, says it is important to stop the chain of transmission and this depends on identifying everyone that has the Ebola infection, tracing people with whom they have come in contact and making sure those who are ill receive the right treatment.
 
He says the committee recommends that countries where the disease is spreading declare a national emergency.  

He says the movement of people should be stopped in the so-called hot spot for the disease -- the cross-border area of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
 
But, he adds, these people must be given quality care, and measures such as quarantine should be used only when considered necessary.
 
Regarding other countries, Dr. Fukuda says the emergency committee does not recommend a general ban on travel or trade.   
 
"... But it does have the proviso that if you are infected or if you are a contact, these people should not travel… The countries should make sure-these are countries that do not have cases-should have good surveillance that can pick up suspect Ebola cases," said Dr. Fukuda. "We know in a globalized world, that people can travel anywhere, so all countries should be prepared to identify potential cases.  And, they should also make sure that they have access to proper laboratory, diagnostic laboratory testing."   
 

Ebola virus, rapid rise in spread of the disease, Aug. 7, 2014Ebola virus, rapid rise in spread of the disease, Aug. 7, 2014
x
Ebola virus, rapid rise in spread of the disease, Aug. 7, 2014
Ebola virus, rapid rise in spread of the disease, Aug. 7, 2014

The committee recommends the screening of all people at international airports, seaports and major land crossings for unexplained fevers consistent with Ebola infection.  

It says countries infected with the virus should not hold mass gatherings, such as football matches, until the disease is under control.
 
The Ebola virus is spread through the direct contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.  Many people become infected when they touch the bodies of dead loved ones during burial ceremonials.  It is for this reason the committee recommends well-trained personnel conduct funerals and burials.

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden displays CDC educational materials as he testifies about the Ebola crisis in West Africa during a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Diplomatic envoys gather for a briefing on the status of the Ebola disease control in Nigeria at the Foreign Affairs House, in Abuja,  Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu addresses diplomatic envoys on the status of the Ebola disease control in Nigeria, at the Foreign Affairs House in Abuja, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Locals suspect the unattended man in the street died from the deadly Ebola virus even though the government warns the public not to leave Ebola victims in the streets, in  Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 5, 2014.
  • A man reads a local newspaper with headline news about a Lagos female doctor who contracted Ebola, in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 5, 2014.
  • Lagos State Health Commissioner Jide Idris at a news conference announcing that eight people with symptoms of Ebola are being kept in quarantine after they had contact with Patrick Sawyer, a victim of Ebola who died in July, Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 5, 2014.
  • An ambulance carrying the American missionary Nancy Writebol, who was infected with Ebola in West Africa, drives past crowds of people, at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia Aug. 5, 2014.
  • At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are on a conference call with CDC team members deployed in West Africa from the agency's Emergency Operations Center, Aug. 5, 2014, in Atlanta.
  • Volunteers lower a corpse into a grave. They are using safe burial practices to reduce person-to-person transmission of Ebola, in Kailahun, Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, Aug. 2, 2014.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs