Médecins Sans Frontières Says West African Countries Need Resources To Combat Ebola

In spite of the fact the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever an international health emergency, Médecins Sans Frontières says international efforts to halt the spread of the virus are dangerously inadequate.

The number of deaths from the disease as well as number of cases has continued to rise dramatically in Sierra Leone and Liberia which has produced a public health crises in the two countries located in West Africa.

As of mid August the disease has caused 1,069 deaths since the outbreak began with a further 1,975 cases reported according to the WHO.

Governments around the world and the WHO need to offer immediate support to the governments of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea. There is an immediate requirement to mobilise international resources both human and technical to Sierra Leone and Liberia, to assist countries in need.

It has become quite obvious there will be no containment of the Ebola virus unless there is a massive deployment of medical and disaster relief specialists from states. Governments of the countries that have been worst affected have been doing everything they can to fight the epidemic. They are in desperate need of international support as their nurses and doctors have been risking their lives and dying on the front line of this outbreak.

Providing money is simply not enough. There is a requirement for disaster relief specialists and infectious disease experts from countries with these resources, who need to deploy teams in the affected countries. Aside from a larger deployment of additional laboratory capacity for Ebola testing, and a larger deployment of epidemiological and medical specialists, there is a need for helicopters and ambulances to safely transport suspected cases and samples.

International non-governmental organizations must also step up their efforts in region.

Humanitarian Agencies Reaching Limits

Médecins Sans Frontières emergency teams are continuing their fight to contain the Ebola epidemic. The organization currently has 1,086 staff working in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea treating a rapidly rising number of patients. The agency says its number one priority is to offer care for patients that have become infected. MSF says it has already deployed the maximum number of its experienced human resources.

The worst affected countries as still trying to rebuild after many years of civil war. These countries are already struggling to meet the basic health requirements of their population leave alone deal with an emergency of this magnitude and complexity.

Many health facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia are either empty or closed. Lots of people have avoided seeking treatment for regular illness for fear of being infected with the virus. Some healthcare workers have been infected or have died. This has meant many other workers are too afraid to come in to work.

The WHO should coordinate and seek additional support for general workers so that health centres and hospitals can remain open to treat the usual high burden of disease in these countries. If the health care system in the worst affected countries is not managed,  mortality levels from other diseases may increase exponentially and could be a terrible indirect consequence of the Ebola epidemic.

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