A GLOBAL military response is needed to try to curb the
Ebola-virus epidemic, the head of the charity Medecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) has told the United Nations.
The charity has warned that the world is losing the battle to
contain the virus, which has killed more than 1550 of the 3000
people infected so far. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has
estimated that about 20,000 people will be infected over the next
three months in the hot spots of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone,
and that it will take six months to bring the epidemic under
Dr Joanne Liu of MSF told the UN on Tuesday: "In West Africa,
cases and deaths continue to surge. Riots are breaking out.
Isolation centres are overwhelmed. Health workers on the front
lines are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers.
Others have fled in fear, leaving people without care for even the
most common illnesses. Entire health systems have crumbled.
"Ebola treatment centres are reduced to places where people go
to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered. It
is impossible to keep up with the sheer number of infected people
pouring into facilities. In Sierra Leone, infectious bodies are
rotting in the streets. Rather than building new Ebola care centres
in Liberia, we are forced to build crematoria."
So far, international leaders had responded only by joining a
"global coalition of inaction", she said. Military and civilian
teams capable of dealing with a biological disaster were needed
immediately in West Africa as the spread of Ebola "will not be
prevented without a massive deployment". Existing measures, such as
forced quarantine, were only driving people underground and
breeding fear and unrest, she said.
Anglican dioceses in affected areas are working with government
agencies to spread the message about disease control as well as
distribute food to those in quarantined areas.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that food
harvests in affected countries are at serious risk, and shortages
are likely. Fear of shortages has resulted in huge price rises.
The WHO confirmed this week that 31 people have now died in a
separate Ebola outbreak in the Congo. The epidemic in West Africa
has also affected Nigeria, and now Senegal, where the first case
was confirmed this week.
The only British sufferer, the volunteer nurse William Pooley,
is said to be improving. He is in an isolation ward at the Royal
Free Hospital in London. He contracted the disease while working at
a hospital in Sierra Leone.
Public Health England has instructed emergency staff to ask all
those phoning in for medical help whether they have recently
returned from West Africa.
The Team Vicar of Newbury, the Revd Paul Cowan, phoned for an
ambulance from his home when a man collapsed in the church
cloister, and he was told to ask the man if he had been to West
Africa recently. He said that he was disturbed to be asked to feel
the man's skin and look under his clothing for bruising.
"If the ambulance service are fearing an outbreak of Ebola and
furnishing their staff with the appropriate questions, why am I
being asked to feel this man's skin and handle his clothing?" he
South Central Ambulance Services said: "In light of the current
Ebola outbreak, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation
Trust (SCAS) follows nationally set guidelines from Public Health
England (PHE) for those who dial 111 or 999 having recently
returned from West Africa. . . They will be asked nationally
pre-set questions from PHE. This will ensure that SCAS control-room
staff can give advice to patients and ensure that they receive the
appropriate treatment depending on their condition or type of
incident that is presented."
A radio station broadcasting from Bradford for stations in West
Africa has produced a series of programmes on the Ebola virus. The
work of Nick Mangeolles, the PCC treasurer of St Clement's,
Bradford, the programmes have been broadcast in French and are also
being translated into Portuguese. Mr Mangeolles said that he had
received a "positive and thankful" response from radio stations,
and requests for more programmes.
On Wednesday, William Pooley, the first British person to
contract Ebola during the latest outbreak (
News, 29 August), was discharged from the Royal Free Hospital
in London, after making a full recovery.
He said: "I was very lucky in several ways: firstly in the
standard of care I received, which is a world apart from what
people are receiving in West Africa at the moment.
"And my symptoms never progressed to the worst stage of the
disease, I've seen people dying horrible deaths, I had some
unpleasant symptoms, but nothing compared to the worst of the