WHO: West Africa Ebola Outbreak Could End This Year

first_imgFollowing the increasing successful stories of zero Ebola infections in Liberia and further stories of drastic reductions of infections in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced at the United Nations headquarters in New York, that the end of infections could be reached at the end of 2015.In plain language, she said there could be no more Ebola and that Liberia, (already enjoying zero infections) could be joined by Guinea and Sierra Leone to be free, too.Speaking at the U.N. Security Council via video link from Hong Kong last Thursday, Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO said that Ebola in West Africa could be “soundly defeated” by the end of this year.The report quoted Dr. Chan as telling the U.N. Security Council that current surveillance and response capacities have greatly improved and health workers have a better picture of how the disease spreads.She noted that the three most affected West African countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have made huge progress to the extent that new cases in Liberia have stopped, and in Guinea and Sierra Leone a total of only three cases have been reported during each of the past two weeks.“If the current intensity of case detection and contact tracing is sustained, the virus can be soundly defeated by the end of this year. That means getting to zero and staying at zero,” she said.Like the success story of Liberia, contact tracing is on high agenda and the last reported case saw the swift response of health officials to identify and trace all those that might come in contact with the last known victim.To date, health officials in Liberia are like hawks, said a health official who was contacted for this story, “to pounce on any rumor of an outbreak,” so that Liberia can continue to enjoy its Ebola-free status.However, Dr. Chan said the latest outbreak of Ebola in Guinea and Sierra Leone and even the most recent in Liberia will not be officially over until there are zero cases of the virus. Affected countries need to have no new reported cases for 42 days before they can be declared free of the virus.Thankfully, latest reports in Liberia suggest the country having achieved the required number of days (42) and is significantly virus free, though health officials are not prepared to pack up their PPEs any time soon.Dr. Chan mentioned the establishment of communicable disease control systems in West Africa by the African Union and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help African nations better prepare for future potential outbreaks.There have been nearly 28,000 cases of Ebola and more than 11,000 deaths.“When Ebola is defeated completely,” said a young man who lost three family members in Monrovia, “we will have the chance to rejoice.”While celebrating the defeat of Ebola would be high on any government’s agenda, stigma both at home and abroad remains and Liberians and their neighbors would have a herculean fight on their hands, many Liberians have observed.Reports from outside Liberia indicate that Liberians have experienced isolation, humiliation and even harassment because their country was invaded by the Ebola virus, in spite of the international travel precautions that were taken at all airports to monitor passengers from the infected region.Even Liberian nationals who were not in the country during the Ebola crisis, and known as Liberians have suffered such an international stigma of humiliation and isolation, said a Liberian who went through such humiliation in a recent travel abroad. “We need the WHO to get the world to understand that Liberians were also victims to the scourge and therefore like the international effort to defeat it, they need solidarity of the world and not isolation and humiliation,” the man quoted earlier stated.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img

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