Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
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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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
News stories from IPS
Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to this latest Ebola virus outbreak.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 03 (IPS) - Recommendations on how to eradicate Ebola and avoid future outbreaks were released in a report on Tuesday by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, Dic 03 (IPS) - The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has joined a number of football stars, celebrities, international health organisations and corporations in the ‘Africa United' global health communications campaign aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
FREETOWN, Dic 01 (IPS) - The outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone has dwarfed the campaign against HIV/AIDS, to the extent that patients no longer go to hospitals and treatment centres out of fear of contracting the Ebola virus.
LONDON, Nov 24 (IPS) - The Ebola crisis has thrown into sharp relief the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene in treating and caring for the sick. Dying patients are being taken to hospitals which never had enough water to maintain hygiene, and the epidemic has pushed the system to breaking point.
DENVER, Colorado, Nov 24 (IPS) - When was the last time in recent memory a top U.S. official praised Cuba publicly? And since when has Cuba's leadership offered to cooperate with Americans?
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 17 (IPS) - The United Nations, which is working on an emergency footing to battle the outbreak of Ebola, is worried about the potential for further isolation of the hardest-hit nations in West Africa.
FREETOWN, Nov 17 (IPS) - The outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone has badly affected the West African country's move towards meeting key development goals.
WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (IPS) - The United States proposed Tuesday that the international community write off 100 million dollars in debt owed by West African countries hit hardest by the current Ebola outbreak. The money would be re-invested in health and other public programming.
NEW YORK, Nov 13 (IPS) - The simultaneity presented by the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus on one hand and militant barbarism ostensibly in the name of Islam on the other present the international development community - particularly the United Nations and international NGOs – with challenges, as well as opportunities.
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 11 (IPS) - The continued widespread economic recession - aggravated by the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa - is threatening to undermine the U.N.'s highly-touted post-2015 development agenda.
FREETOWN, Nov 06 (IPS) - The fight against the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa seems to be hanging in the balance as Sierra Leone's Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abubakar Fofana told IPS that the government is overwhelmed by the outbreak.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachussetts, Oct 27 (IPS) - The catastrophic Ebola crisis unfolding in West Africa offers many lessons, not least for global anti-poverty efforts. These will culminate in a set of targets, to be agreed by the United Nations in 2015, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (IPS) - Despite media hype, missteps by federal health agencies, and apparent efforts by right-wing and some neo-conservatives to foment fear about the possible spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S., most of the public remain at least "fairly" confident in the authorities' ability to deal with the virus.
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 22 (IPS) - The widespread outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which has resulted in over 4,500 deaths so far, is also threatening to trigger a food crisis in the three countries already plagued by poverty and hunger.
WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (IPS) - President Barack Obama is under significant pressure to impose a range of restrictions on travellers coming to the United States from West African countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak.
WASHINGTON, Sep 28 (IPS) - Six months into West Africa's Ebola crisis, the international community is finally heeding calls for substantial intervention in the region.
WASHINGTON, Sep 26 (IPS) - Despite mounting pledges of assistance, the continuing spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa is outpacing regional and international efforts to stop it, according to world leaders and global health experts.
MONROVIA, Sep 11 (IPS) - As the Ebola crisis continues to take a toll on people's lives and livelihoods in West Africa, the focus is increasingly not just on the health aspects of the crisis, but also on its social and economic consequences.
WASHINGTON, Sep 08 (IPS) - The U.S. military over the weekend formally began to support the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
SAN FRANCISO, Sep 08 (IPS) - It is testing time for global tourism. The ongoing political conflicts across North Africa, compounded by military action in the Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan, and the spread of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa have put to the test the ability of international tourism to continue to grow amidst crises.
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