Ebola crisis not yet over: Report

Johannesburg: The number of Ebola cases might have declined, but the crisis caused by the disease is not yet over, the global medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Monday.

The organisation also revealed the shortcomings of the global response to the crisis, according to a Xinhua report.

“Today we share our initial reflections and take a critical look at both MSF’s response and the wider global response to the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history,” Joanne Liu, president MSF International, was quoted as saying.

Liu said the Ebola epidemic proved to be an exceptional event that exposed the reality of how inefficient and slow health and aid systems were to respond to emergencies.

The report “Pushed to the Limit and Beyond” is based on interviews with dozens of MSF staff involved in the organisation’s Ebola intervention.

It describes MSF’s early warnings an year ago about cases of Ebola spreading in Guinea, the initial denial by governments of the affected countries, and the unprecedented steps that MSF was forced to take in the face of global inaction as the outbreak engulfed neighbouring states.

The report details the effects of the several months-long “global coalition of inaction,” during which the virus spread wildly, leading MSF to issue a rare call for the mobilisation of international civilian and military medical assets with bio-hazard capacity.

The report also lays out the challenges MSF faced over the past year and the difficult choices made in the absence of available treatment and sufficient resources.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the three countries worst affected by Ebola.

Sierra Leone last week enforced a new three-day curfew in an attempt to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, which has already killed nearly 3,700 people in the African country.

In Guinea, patient numbers are again rising. In Sierra Leone, many people are presenting with the virus who were not previously on lists of known Ebola contacts. Liberia is currently on the countdown to zero cases, but remains at risk while the virus lives on in neighbouring countries.

According to the latest figures released earlier this month by the World Health Organisation (WHO), of more than 24,350 people infected, 10,004 people have died from the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The UN announced on Wednesday that the WHO and the World Food Programme (WFP) would be joining forces to bring the cases of Ebola outbreak in West Africa down to zero.

Ebola is a form of haemorrhagic fever, symptoms of which are diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, faeces or sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

The virus currently has no approved therapy or vaccine, though earlier this month, the WHO launched Ebola vaccination trials in Guinea.