THE director of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan,
has warned against complacency and "donor fatigue" in the fight
against the Ebola virus, as it was announced that the number of
cases is in decline.
The virus, which began in Liberia more than a year ago, has
killed more than 8000 people in West Africa, including 3000 in
Sierra Leone, the worst-affected country. Although it is still
seeing dozens of new cases a day, its government has now lifted
strict quarantine regulations, including travel restrictions that
had sealed off six of its 14 districts.
Lifting the restrictions, the Sierra Leonean President, Ernest
Bai Koroma, announced that "victory was in sight" . But Dr Chan
warned this week: "Cases are clearly declining in all three
countries, but we must maintain the momentum and guard against
complacency and donor-fatigue. Getting to zero cases of Ebola in
the three remaining countries is our collective goal. This can be
done, but is not going to be easy. As we have seen time and time
again, an upsurge in new cases can follow a single unsafe burial or
viol-ent act of community resistance. Both of these high-risk
situations are still occurring."
The first batch of an experimental vaccine has arrived in
Liberia and will be distributed as part of a clinical trial.
The chief executive of Oxfam GB, Mark Goldring, has said that
millions of dollars of aid are needed to help West Africa recover,
and called for a "Marshall-type" plan (the post-Second World War
project for European recovery).
Paulina Johnson, who moved from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to
Cambridge, and now works for the overseas disabilities charity, CBM
UK, said this week that she had been prevented by the travel
restrictions from going home to bury her mother .
"It was very hard not to be there to bury my mother and
celebrate her life with my family. I am trying from over here in
the UK to advise my family to do the right thing, and keep
Ms Johnson is responsible for her two teenage nieces who still
live in Freetown, after her younger sister died.
"Though, thankfully, none of my family died from Ebola, the
virus has had a huge impact on their lives; schools have been
closed, and food prices have risen."
One of her cousins is a doctor who worked closely with Dr Martin
Salia, who died in the US after treating Ebola victims in Sierra
"We were very worried for him. Once he even phoned from the
cemetery where he was burying a friend, but he said to us 'someone
has to do it.'"
Fighting malaria. The fight against Africa's
other big killer, malaria, is continuing throughout the Ebola virus
outbreak. Médecins Sans Frontières has handed out 1.8 million
Many patients with malaria reported being unable to get
treatment at health centres, where they were turned away by staff
who feared they had Ebola; symptoms of both diseases can be
mistaken for each other.