Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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  • by Anup Shah
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On this page:

  1. Introduction
  2. Where does the Ebola virus come from?
  3. Tackling the spread of the Ebola virus
  4. News stories from IPS

Introduction

The latest Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the history of the disease.

The epidemic began at the end of 2013, in Guinea. From there it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. Many of the affected countries face enormous challenges in stopping its spread and providing care for all patients.

Thousands of people have died and many are at risk as the fatality rate from this virus is very high. As the crisis worsens, as well as the enormous health challenges involved, the social and economic consequences may set these countries back, reversing some gains a number of these countries have made in recent years.

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Where does the Ebola virus come from?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, the initial human infection comes from contact with an infected animal, most likely a bat. From there, human to human transmission spreads the disease.

Virus Ecology Graphic , CDC, August 1, 2014

As The Guardian has noted, drugs and vaccines for Ebola has typically been low priority for the main drugs companies although now there is a new focus and sense of urgency:

Until now, pharmaceutical firms have given Ebola very low priority. The few potential drugs and vaccines under development are now being sped into trials. Healthy volunteers in the UK and US have been injected with a candidate vaccine to test safety. Drug trials will soon be set up in west Africa, but they are several months away and there is no certainty that they will work.

Briefing: West Africa’s Ebola crisis, The Guardian, last accessed, September 27, 2014

As has been mentioned on this site for years, unfortunately diseases affecting the poorest countries the worst have typically received little attention or investment, sometimes as there isn’t any profit in it for drugs companies, which raises a whole set of other issues about drug treatments and access to essential medicines.

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Tackling the spread of the Ebola virus

The CDC also notes that strict isolation of infected patients is essential to reduce onward transmission.

In addition, as a number of these countries are quite poor, aid and health assistance is quite essential as resources are limited for already strained budgets and health departments. While aid has been slow to come, aid on its own will not help; there is a general lack of enough trained staff, basic equipment and appropriate medical facilities to handle the number of people needing care. And that doesn’t even cover the additional services that could be needed for thousands of people who have lost many loved ones, including entire families.

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News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to this latest Ebola virus outbreak.

  1. Doses of Ebola candidate vaccines expected to be shipped to Uganda next week: WHO

    - UN News

    Three candidate Ebola vaccines for a proposed clinical trial in Uganda should be shipped to the country next week, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday. 

  2. WHO supports Uganda Ebola response, faces challenges fighting Haiti cholera outbreak

    - UN News

    The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to support Uganda as the Government there responds to a deadly Ebola outbreak, agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesdayin his weekly press conference on global health challenges.

  3. ‘Worrying upsurge’ in deadly cholera, warns Tedros, in wide-ranging global health update

    - UN News

    The UN health agency is working diligently in Uganda to support the government in responding to an Ebola outbreak in four districts, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told journalists on Wednesday, in a wide-ranging briefing which included the latest on a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases across Europe.

  4. Seven Ebola cases, one death confirmed in Uganda, WHO scales up response

    - UN News

    The UN health agency, WHO, announced on Wednesday that it is speeding up efforts to respond to a fresh outbreak of the deadly, infectious Ebola disease in Uganda.

  5. Rare Ebola outbreak declared in Uganda

    - UN News

    An outbreak of Ebola virus has been declared in Uganda after a case was confirmed in Mubende district, in the centre of the country.

  6. WHO supports DR Congo authorities as Ebola resurges in volatile east

    - UN News

    Ebola has resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following confirmation of a case in the restive eastern province of North Kivu, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Tuesday, citing authorities in the country. 

  7. WHO recommends two new lifesaving medicines to treat Ebola

    - UN News

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for countries to improve access to two lifesaving Ebola medicines, in its first guidelines on the viral disease, published on Friday. 

  8. Ghana prepares for possible first-ever Marburg virus outbreak

    - UN News

    Preliminary findings of two Marburg virus cases have prompted Ghana to prepare for a potential outbreak of the disease. If confirmed, these would the first such infections recorded in the country, and only the second in West Africa. Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease. 

  9. DR Congo declares end to latest Ebola outbreak

    - UN News

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declared the end of its 14th Ebola outbreak after less than three months, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

  10. Ebola vaccination campaign begins in DR Congo to counter new outbreak

    - UN News

    An Ebola vaccination campaign has begun in northwest Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to halt the spread of a deadly new outbreak in the country, where the disease is endemic.

  11. New Ebola outbreak declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    - UN News

    The health authorities of the African nation declared a new outbreak of Ebola after a case was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the north-western Equateur Province, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Saturday.

  12. Democratic Republic of the Congo declares Ebola outbreak over

    - UN News

    The latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu Province that began in October, is officially over, national health authorities announced this Thursday.  

  13. WHO announces plan for ‘profound transformation' following sexual abuse allegations in DR Congo

    - UN News

    The suffering of survivors of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by World Health Organization staff during the tenth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is going to be “the catalyst for a profound transformation” of WHO’s culture. 

  14. DR Congo: Abuse allegations amid Ebola outbreak ‘a sickening betrayal of the people we serve’

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Sexual abuse and exploitation allegedly carried out by World Health Organization (WHO) staff during the UN health agency’s response to an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is “a sickening betrayal of the people we serve,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said on Tuesday. 

  15. Côte d’Ivoire: Ebola vaccination of high-risk populations begins three days after outbreak declared

    - UN News

    The vaccination against Ebola of high-risk populations began on Monday in Côte d’Ivoire following the discovery of an outbreak in the country three days ago. The swift response came after vaccines manufactured by Merck, which the World Health Organization (WHO) helped to secure to fight a four-month long outbreak in neighbouring Guinea, were quickly sent to the country. 

  16. Côte d’Ivoire confirms first Ebola case in 25 years

    - UN News

    A case of Ebola virus has been confirmed in Côte d’Ivoire for the first time since 1994, the country’s Ministry of Health has confirmed. The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating the delivery of vaccines to the country.

  17. We Can Prevent the Bankruptcy of the Sacred – Dare we Try?

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jul 22 (IPS) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes “our solidarity based on the human rights and human dignity of all highlights the crucial role of religious leaders in our communities and beyond”. He cited previous public health crises, including HIV/AIDS and Ebola, noting how spiritual leadership had been a positive benefit in terms of community values, attitudes and actions.The UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) came to a conclusion on July 15th. Another HLPF, another series of declaration, and commitments and concerns articulated by governments.

  18. Latest deadly Ebola virus outbreak in DR Congo declared over

    - UN News

    The 12th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was declared officially over on Monday, just three months after the first case was reported in North Kivu, but it marks the end of the country’s fourth outbreak of the deadly disease in less than three years, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

  19. COVID-19 Pandemic has Shown Humanity at its Best-- & at its Worst

    - Inter Press Service

    GENEVA, Feb 11 (IPS) - WHO and UNICEF have a long, deep and very special relationship. Neither of us could do what we do without the other.

    UNICEF’s success is WHO’s success, and we are proud to be your partner on so many issues: Ebola, polio, maternal health, nutrition, infection prevention and control, primary health care – the list is long.

  20. We All Deserve Protection From Covid-19

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW ORLEANS, US, Dec 11 (IPS) - When I contracted Ebola virus disease in August 2014 while working as a medical doctor in a well-known private hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, I was denied access to a potential cure.

  21. A ‘Cure’ for Ebola but Will it Stop the Outbreak if People Won’t Get Treatment?

    - Inter Press Service

    COTONOU, Benin, Aug 20 (IPS) - While people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are slowly being made aware that scientists have discovered two drugs that are effective in treating Ebola, letting go of the fear and anxiety that has prevailed this year will require more work.

  22. The Ebola Crisis: Lessons Learned for Developing Nations

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Apr 11 (IPS) - The Group of 77 has pointed out that the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015 proved that "no country is immune from a disease outbreak, no matter where it emerges"

  23. New Ebola Vaccine Trial Results Offer Hope

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Dec 23 (IPS) - A new Ebola vaccine may be the first to successfully protect against one of the world's most lethal pathogens, according to a trial involving over 11,000 participants in Guinea.

  24. Ebola Recovery Funds Impossible to Track, Says New Study

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 01 (IPS) - When the Ebola epidemic devastated three West African countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea two years ago – the international community responded with pledges of over $5.8 billion in funds to fight the disease which has killed over 11,300 people.

  25. Birth Registrations Plummet in Wake of Ebola Epidemic

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jul 30 (IPS) - Liberia's Ebola epidemic may have subsided but the after effects are still being felt, with tens of thousands of infants going unregistered at birth, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF says.

  26. "Get to Zero, Stay at Zero" - The Comprehensive Plan to End Ebola

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Jul 11 (IPS) - "The threat is never over until we rebuild," Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma stressed at an Ebola Recovery Conference Friday in New York.

  27. Ebola Recovery Focuses on Strengthening Africa’s Health Systems

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jul 07 (IPS) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing delegates in a run-up to an international Ebola recovery conference, said last month that "all of the investments, all of the sacrifices and all of the risks by relief workers" would be squandered if an outbreak of the disease recurs.

  28. As Ebola Approaches Zero, Immunisation Gets a Boost in West Africa

    - Inter Press Service

    DAKAR, May 04 (IPS) - As Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Liberia work to end Ebola, critical healthcare services damaged by the epidemic are beginning to be revitalised.

  29. 1.7 Billion Dollars Needed to Improve Ebola-hit Countries' Health Care, Says Oxfam

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Apr 16 (IPS) - The international humanitarian charity Oxfam is calling on the World Bank and major donors to raise 1.7 billion dollars to improve poor health systems in Ebola-affected countries and strengthen community networks for preventing another epidemic.

  30. Nine Million Children Impacted by Ebola Outbreak

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 18 (IPS) - Nine million children have been affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, while thousands have lost parents to the virus, according to a new report from The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

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  • by Anup Shah
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