Ebola has created ‘wartime’ situation
Two west African nations and medical charity Doctors Without Borders fighting the world’s worst Ebola epidemic have chided the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its slow response, saying more action was needed to save victims threatened by the disease and hunger.
With the death toll sitting at more than 1 000 and climbing, the UN health agency is facing questions over whether it moved quickly enough to declare the months-old outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”, which it did on August 8.
Doctors Without Borders, which has been one of the most active groups in fighting the outbreak, said the disease’s spread had created a “wartime” situation in the worst-affected states of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Nigeria is also facing a smaller outbreak.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said his nation’s two treatment centres were “overwhelmed”.
In neighbouring Liberia, Information Minister Lewis Brown said Ebola-affected rural areas quarantined by troops faced serious food shortages.
“We need a more robust response to the nature of the disease and the way it is affecting us,” said Koroma, adding that he had delivered this message to the WHO, which is coordinating international efforts to try to control the outbreak.
“If our people are dying, the response should be an extraordinary response because it is an extraordinary situation,” said Koroma. “Time is of the essence,” he added. He said he had seen the world respond to major humanitarian crises, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and that west Africa needed similar help. – Reuters