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article imageEbola virus spreading amid urgent appeals for international help

By Karen Graham     Jul 2, 2014 in Health
This time, the Ebola virus outbreak is being classified as the worst outbreak ever, and people are scared. There is fear that the virus will spread all across West Africa unless cooperation is seen between countries and international help is forthcoming.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding a two-day meeting in Accra, the capital of Ghana, On Wednesday, the first day of the meeting, health ministers from 11 African nations met to discuss the best way to respond to the rapidly expanding Ebola virus outbreak that has killed 467 people so far this year.
Ghana has been the hardest hit, with 303 deaths since April. While initial number of deaths in Liberia and Sierra Leone were low to begin with, there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases in the past month. Other countries taking part in the two-day meeting include, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Liberia today, it was reported that a foreign surgical doctor from Uganda, assigned to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, has died from the Ebola virus. Health authorities have confirmed that the doctor, known as Dr. Sam died at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center Cholera Unit where he was being treated. His was the fifth health-care worker death from Ebola in Liberia since June 29. A physician's assistant from the Tandapolie clinic in Caldwell also died recently from Ebola.
It is fear of the disease itself, and fear of being ostracized that that is keeping many people in Liberia on edge. Liberia's first case of Ebola was a woman from Liberia who had traveled to Guinea. On her return in March she became sick and died two days later. By the time she had died, she had infected 11 more people. Two of the eleven were nurses who died. The other nine victims lived.
There were no more cases until three weeks later, when a woman from Sierra Leone, obviously out of fear, gave authorities misleading information, telling them she was local. This was the truth, but she had come back from Sierra Leone recently. She infected many more people than the first woman, and some are still being tracked down. Many have died.
What stands out the most is that Liberia is one of the World's poorest countries, and has been coping with this outbreak with little outside help. The people are poor, and proper health procedures and equipment are lacking, for the most part. Many nurses have fled the hospitals because of abject fear of getting the disease because personal protective equipment (PPE) is unavailable.
There is also a cultural problem with Ebola. It is customary to take a dead body home to bathe it, and keep it at home for a week. While the deceased is at home, it is treated reverently, being touched, kissed and even present at family meals. Authorities say this custom has probably led to further spread of the virus. With the Ebola virus not showing any indication of letting up, health care workers have made an urgent appeal for international help in controlling the spread of Ebola.
More about Ebola virus, International aid, Liberia, nurses quitting, Guinea
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