AS THE official death toll from the Ebola virus climbs over 5000
- all but 27 of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea - the
Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal: the first
in its 50-year history dedicated to a disease outbreak.
On Tuesday, DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said that the
unprecedented appeal was "a sign of just how serious the situation
in West Africa has become . . . Without urgent action to stop the
spread of Ebola and to help those af- fected by the crisis, parts
of West Africa face catastrophe within 60 days."
On Tuesday, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim,
called for thousands of medical volunteers to help stem the spread
of the deadly virus. At least 5000 medics and support staff were
needed to beat the disease, he said, but many potential recruits
were too scared to travel to West Africa.
"With the fear factor going out of control in so many places, I
hope healthcare professionals will understand that when they took
their oath to become a health care worker, it was precisely for
moments like this," he said.
Australia this week suspended visas for people travelling from
West Africa, a decision criticised by Amnesty International and the
governments of affected countries.
A government spokesman for Uganda - which has had no cases of
the virus - told the BBC: "Western countries are creating mass
panic which is unhelpful in containing a contagious disease like
Ebola. If they create mass panic. . . This fear will eventually
spread beyond ordinary people to health workers or people who
transport the sick, and then what will happen? Entire populations
will be wiped out."
Churches in affected countries are playing an important part in
spreading prevention messages about the virus (News,
Tearfund's project officer in Sierra Leone, Patricia Conteh,
said: "The rate of infection increases every day, and there is now
very minimal interaction. We don't hug, we don't shake hands, we
don't have contact.
"The church is strategically placed to help because people take
what the pastor says and act on it. The church has a big, big role
in this fight. The church needs to keep being proactive."
Churches throughout the region are now administering communion
by intinction, and changing the way they do the peace, to avoid
Tearfund has supplied churches with hygiene kits to demonstrate
how to avoid catching the virus, and distributing thousands of kits