(GENEVA) – On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Ebola spread as an international health emergency that requires an organized global approach, after it has devastated West Africa. Earlier this week an emergency was already declared in Liberia. Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are battling the virus, while it has also started causing some serious trouble in Nigeria.
Director General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, said, “I am declaring the current outbreak of the Ebola a public health emergency of international concern.”
“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries,” said WHO, after an emergency meeting that went on for two days.
Other medical care groups appreciated the identification but believe that this alone will not reduce the rate of deaths. So many lives are being lost just because the awareness and public response is too slow and proper precautionary measures, like isolation centers , are not being implemented.
Dr. Bart Janssens, Director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said, “Declaring Ebola an international public health emergency shows how seriously WHO is taking the current outbreak, but statements won’t save lives,” he said further, “For weeks, MSF has been repeating that a massive medical, epidemiological and public health response is desperately needed to save lives and reverse the course of the epidemic.”
According to the WHO’s reports put together from earlier this year till last Wednesday, the Ebola Virus has brought 961 killings and has infected 1,779 people. However, WHO has launched a Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response Plan for July till December in West Africa worth USD 100 million.
The WHO Strategic Action Plan is divided into two parts:
- Immediate actions to support the three first EVD affected countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia).
- Interventions in neighboring countries to increase preparedness and prevent occurrence of an outbreak.
Immediate actions to support the three EVD affected countries
A) Urgently strengthen the field response
- A local response team is in place in each “hot spot”.
- Provision of field logistical support including Personal Protective Equipment supply and local laboratory facilities capacity.
- Provision of care to patients with effective infection prevention and control in health care settings.
- Chains of transmission broken through active surveillance, case investigation, contact tracing and follow-up.
- Public relations and reputation management, social mobilization, and risk communications strengthened.
B) Coordinate the outbreak response
- Manage the WHO Sub-regional Ebola Operations Coordination Centre: Field coordination, collaboration and operational management of the outbreak response strengthened. Cross-border coordination strengthened.
- WHO’s leadership and coordination of EVD outbreak response strengthened at all levels.
- Logistics management systems strengthened to support response activities.
- Disease-related and other content-based expert support provided for risk assessment and expert networks mobilized.
- Global communication and information provided.
- External relations strengthened.
- Clinical support strengthened.
- Development of new medical treatments and interventions against EVD advanced.
Preparedness in countries at-risk
- Preparedness plans activated and tested
- Active surveillance strengthened
- Laboratory diagnostic capacity strengthened
- Public information and social mobilization enhanced
- Case management and infection prevention and control capacities strengthened
WHO and the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are urgently requesting financial support of US$ 71,053,413 to implement the Ebola outbreak response plans and priority preparedness activities for the period of 6 months to accelerate the response in the region.
According to WHO, currently there is no registered medicine or vaccine against Ebola, but there are several experimental options under development.