Yale, Southern epidemiologist concerned poor infrastructure contributes to Ebola epidemic By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register New York[RR] New Haven–As the world is “losing the battle” against the world’s first Ebola epidemic, according to the head of Doctors Without Borders, an epidemiologist from Southern Connecticut State and Yale universities said Tuesday that poor infrastructure in […]
Yale, Southern epidemiologist concerned poor infrastructure contributes to Ebola epidemic By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register
New York[RR] New Haven–As the world is “losing the battle” against the world’s first Ebola epidemic, according to the head of Doctors Without Borders, an epidemiologist from Southern Connecticut State and Yale universities said Tuesday that poor infrastructure in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is a contributor to the epidemic.
Dr. John Nwangwu was part of a team from the World Health Organization in Guinea, where he helped advise affected governments trying to contain the virus.
“Some countries, given their public infrastructure, might be able to do a better job of implementing disease control,” Nwangwu said, citing Nigeria as an example. “Others might not be able to.”
At a United Nations meeting on the Ebola crisis, WHO Director Margaret Chan thanked countries that have helped but said: “We need more from you. And we also need those countries that have not come on board.”
Later at a news conference, she warned that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better.
Doctors Without Borders, which has treated more than 1,000 Ebola patients in West Africa since March, is overwhelmed by the disease, said Joanne Liu, the organization’s president. She called on other countries to contribute civilian and military medical personnel familiar with biological disasters.
“Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Liu said at the U.N. forum. “Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered.”
In Sierra Leone, she said, infectious bodies are rotting in the streets. Liberia had to build a new crematorium instead of new Ebola care centers.
Nwangwu said he has gone to Africa three times since March with the WHO and said he is on call to return.
“Primarily we trained the health care providers,” he said. The main disease-control effort is isolating the victims, he said, but that has sparked conspiracy theories.
“If you have a member of your family that was taken away and they died, then family members are going to start raising questions,” Nwangwu said. They may bring up conspiracy theories of what happened, including some believing “that we brought the disease,” he said.
David Nabarro, who is coordinating the U.N. response, said the effort to fight Ebola requires protective gear, motorcycles, flatbed trucks and food. “The outbreak is advancing ahead of us,” he said. “And we in our control efforts are falling behind.”
Chan said everyone involved had underestimated the outbreak, which has now killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. U.N. officials implored governments worldwide to send medical workers and material contributions.
Meanwhile in Liberia, a missionary organization announced that another American doctor has become infected.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the situation is now the world’s first Ebola epidemic.
Last month, two Americans were evacuated to the United States for treatment after contracting Ebola in Liberia. The two recovered after receiving an experimental drug known as ZMapp. The manufacturer says it has run out of supplies of the drug and it will take months to produce more.
U.S. health officials Tuesday announced a $24.9 million, 18-month contract with Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. to speed development of ZMapp.
The outbreak has taken a particularly high toll on health care workers, and nurses in Liberia and Sierra Leone have repeatedly gone on strike to demand hazard pay and better protective gear.
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