Ebola a global health risk – WHO

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West Africa’s Ebola epi­demic is an “ex­tra­or­di­nary event” and now con­sti­tutes an in­ter­na­tional health risk, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO).

The UN’s health agency said the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of a fur­ther in­ter­na­tional spread of the out­break, which has killed al­most 1 000 peo­ple in four west African coun­tries, were “par­tic­u­larly se­ri­ous” in view of the vir­u­lence of Ebola.

“A co­or­di­nated in­ter­na­tional re­sponse is deemed es­sen­tial to stop and re­verse the in­ter­na­tional spread of Ebola,” the WHO said late on Fri­day af­ter a two-day meet­ing of its emer­gency com­mit­tee on Ebola.

The dec­la­ra­tion of an in­ter­na­tional emer­gency will have the ef­fect of rais­ing the level of vig­i­lance on the virus.

“The out­break is mov­ing faster than we can con­trol it,” said the WHO’s direc­torgen­eral, Mar­garet Chan, in a tele­phone brief­ing from the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s

A co­or­di­nated in­ter­na­tional re­sponse is deemed es­sen­tial to stop and re­verse the in­ter­na­tional spread of Ebola WORLD HEALTH OR­GAN­I­SA­TION

head­quar­ters in Geneva, Switzer­land.

“The dec­la­ra­tion ... will gal­vanise the at­ten­tion of lead­ers of all coun­tries at the top level. It can­not be done by the min­istries of health alone.”

The agency said that while all states with Ebola trans­mis­sion – so far Guinea, Liberia, Nige­ria and Sierra Leone – should de­clare a na­tional emer­gency, there should not be a gen­eral ban on in­ter­na­tional travel or trade.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s head of health se­cu­rity, stressed that with the right mea­sures to deal with in­fected peo­ple, the spread of Ebola – which is trans­mit­ted through di­rect con­tact with bod­ily flu­ids – could be stopped.

“This is not a mys­te­ri­ous dis­ease. This is an in­fec­tious dis­ease that can be con­tained,” he said.

“It is not a virus that is spread through the air.” – Reuters

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