AFRICA - Ebola in West Africa: massive deployment of resources needed

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Conakry (Agenzia Fides) - Ebola continues to spread in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Ebola patients have been identified in more than 60 separate locations across the three countries, complicating efforts to treat patients and curb the outbreak. We need a massive deployment of resources by the West African governments and aid organisations to keep it under control. The scale of the current Ebola epidemic is unprecedented in terms of geographical distribution, people infected and deaths.
This is the first time that Ebola has broken out in the region: and local communities are still very frightened of the disease, viewing health facilities with suspicion. Meanwhile, a lack of understanding about how the disease spreads has seen people continue to attend funerals where infection-control measures are not implemented.
Despite the presence of a number of organisations working to raise awareness about the disease, their activities have not yet managed to reduce public anxiety about Ebola.
"The epidemic is out of control. With the appearance of new sites there is a real risk of it spreading to other areas", says MSF director of operation. "There have been more than 500 cases and more than 300 deaths. The scale of the current epidemic is unprecedented", said an MSF epidemiologist who has just returned from Guinea.
"In some areas of the country we were able to contain the epidemic, but in others we still have a 80% mortality rate. Of course the epidemic will still continue for a few months. "Qualified medical staff need to be made available, training in how to treat Ebola needs to be organised and, contact tracing and awareness-raising activities among the population need to be stepped up". In Guinea, MSF is supporting the health authorities in delivering medical care for patients in Conakry, Télimélé and Guéckédou. Treatment units were built in Macenta, Kissidougou and Dabola. MSF teams are responding to alerts in villages, raising awareness in communities and offering psychological support to patients and their families.
In Sierra Leone, working with the Ministry of Health, an MSF team is constructing a 50-bed Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun. Small transit care units have already been set up in Koidu and Daru, with a third to open soon in Buedu. In Liberia, an MSF team has set up a treatment unit in Foya (in the north) and another in the JFK hospital in Monrovia in recent weeks. MSF has also organised training courses and donated equipment.
MSF currently has some 300 international and national staff working in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has sent more than 40 tonnes of equipment and supplies to the region to help fight the epidemic. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 25/06/2014)