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MSF: Global Ebola response chaotic, inadequate

2014-08-28 05:00

Cape Town - Medical aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres on Wednesday warned that the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was "chaotic and entirely inadequate."

"It is simply unacceptable that, five months after the declaration of this Ebola outbreak, serious discussions are only starting now about international leadership and co-ordination," said MSF operations director Brice de le Vingne.

In Liberia, Ebola management centres were "overwhelmed" while the virus continued to spread rapidly, said MSF.

Much of the health care system in the capital, Monrovia, had come to a standstill because health workers and patients were afraid of getting infected in hospitals and clinics. This was generating "an emergency within the emergency," cautioned MSF.

The unprecedented influx of patients is forcing MSF to reduce its level of care, the organization said. It is no longer able, for example, to administer intravenous treatments.

Also on Wednesday, a World Health Organisation (WHO) staff member who was infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone was evacuated to Germany, according to spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic.

The Senegalese epidemiologist was infected while working in a laboratory in the town of Kailahun, near the border with Guinea.

The WHO shut the laboratory after the infection was confirmed, but was planning to reopen the site soon, according to WHO coordinator in Sierra Leone, Daniel Kertesz.

The unnamed Senegalese doctor is being treated in a university hospital in Hamburg-Eppendorf, hospital spokesperson Rico Schmidt told dpa.

The patient landed in the northern city of Hamburg Wednesday morning and was transferred to the hospital in an isolated emergency vehicle.

120 health workers dead

More than 240 health workers have been infected with Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the WHO. About 120 have died.

In Nigeria, the government ordered public and private schools to remain closed until 13 October in an attempt to curb the Ebola outbreak, local newspaper Premium Times reported on Wednesday.

The closure was a "preventive measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all students," said Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau.

At least two staff members per school would be trained in handling cases of suspected Ebola infection, the minister added.

The Ebola death toll across West Africa had risen to 1 427 by 23 August, according to the WHO, with a total of 2 615 suspected or confirmed cases in the region.

Ebola causes massive haemorrhaging and has a fatality rate of up to 90%. The disease is transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. 

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