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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora