July 2, 2014
- As Ebola threatens to get out of control,
crisis talks begin in Ghanaian capital Accra.
The World Health Organisation believes the West
African sub-region is now under dire threat and
that there's a need for real coordination if the
death and infection tolls are to be reduced, if
not halted completely.
Health ministers and
administrators are now assembled in the Ghanaian
capital Accra to find ways of tackling the
region's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola
disease which has so far claimed at least four
hundred lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
The first reported
outbreak of the disease in the sub-region was in
Guinea where it took a number of deaths before
it was actually confirmed that it was as a
result of the Ebola virus. The Guinean health
authorities were so baffled by the outbreak that
among the first set of victims were medical
personnel who had gone to the areas affected
with a view to helping victims. These medical
personnel died after being infected by the
highly contagious disease that was making its
first appearance in this part of Africa.
The BBC Global Health
correspondent now in Accra So far, 763 people have
been infected with the virus - and 468 of these
have died. Most of the cases have been in Guinea
where the outbreak started.
But it has since spread
to Liberia and Sierra Leone and is now the
biggest and most deadly Ebola outbreak the world
has seen, say officials. Health officials from
those countries, as well as Ivory Coast,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana,
Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Uganda will
attend the meeting."
The BBC's report has
quoted this from Dr Edward Newman of Public
Health England who's working with the World
Health Organisation who has seen the situation -
"When patients come into
the MSF isolation facility, some walk in if they
are in the early stage of the disease; others
are more seriously ill and need an ambulance. I
also went out into the remote villages to help
trace people who might be ill and help inform
communities about the virus.
It is very challenging
work. There is a lot of misunderstanding and
mistrust of foreign nationals coming in and
trying to help.
The biggest problem we
had was people were not forthcoming about sick
members of the community and getting them to the
isolation centre. Some families were even hiding
sick relatives and bodies."
Ebola spreads so much
fear and trepidation that two countries - Sierra
Leone and Liberia had to dust their law books to
warn residents that it would be a criminal
offence for anyone to hide suspected Ebola
infections as well as the secret burial of those
who had succumbed to the disease.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told the BBC that her
government was committed to providing for the
healthcare needs of every Liberian and that the
practice of taking the sick to prayer meetings
in churches and other areas must stop.
She urged everyone in
Liberia to report such cases to the authorities
so that health officials can make the necessary
intervention to not only help the victims and
relations, but the community. She said that
Liberia now has a massive education campaign in
place that should ease the fear and worries of
many who do not know about the disease and the
Earlier on Saturday June
addressed the Liberian nation in
which she stated among others that -
"In awake of a renewed
outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia,
this has KILLED so many people in Liberia,
Guinea and Sierra Leone and still poses a threat
including health workers. To date in Liberia 70
people have contracted this deadly disease while
46 of our compatriots have died. These numbers
will rise if we do not listen to the advice from
the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and
I call on all Liberians
to now see the Ebola Epidemic as a national
public health emergency. For those who do not
believe that Ebola exists in Liberia, I want to
inform all Liberians in this public manner that
the disease is REAL and is in our country
It is as I speak, taking
the lives of our citizens in Lofa, Montserrado,
and now Margibi County. These deaths are mostly
due to denial, touching dead bodies or
participating in Burial Ceremonies.
Avoid touching dead
bodies or body fluids or materials of infected
Ebola persons. Avoid direct physical contact,
such as handshakes, kissing and direct contact
with body fluids of infected or dead persons or
Symptoms of Ebola
typically include: weakness, fever, headaches,
diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional
signs include rash, red eyes, internal and
external bleeding, chest pain, and sore throat.
I call on all our
Nationals and County leaders, traditional and
religious leaders, civil society, international
partners, and all citizens to join hands in
fighting this disease. With God on our side,
Liberia will win the fight against Ebola!
That is a caring
President in neighbouring Liberia. In Sierra
Leone, not a word from the rat at State House,
not a whimper of concern as he and his looters
of state resources go about as if nothing of the
sort is happening in Sierra Leone with people
dying from Ebola.
On the meeting in Accra,
one news outlet
has noted -
"The meeting will not
only discuss the current threat, but will also
hear testimonies from Ebola virus survivors and
learn lessons from countries like Uganda, which
successfully fought the virus a decade ago. The
next two days will be crucial for health
officials to develop a regional response to the
outbreak, which has already killed more than
four hundred and fifty people.
Ghana’s health Service
intensified surveillance across her borders when
the first case of the virus was reported a few
months ago. The death of an 11-year-old girl
from what appeared to be haemorrhagic fever at
the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in the
Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, just weeks
after the first case was reported, caused fear
and panic in the country.
The Health ministry and
the Ghana health service later confirmed that
the girl did not die from Ebola. The virus is
spread through direct contact with an infected
person or from the consumption of infected
carcasses of bats, which are a delicacy in some
African countries, including Ghana.
One very brave team from
the UK - the Sky TV news outlet has been in
Guinea and in Liberia to bring to viewers the
hard reality picture of what obtains in a
sub-region where health delivery and
administration systems leave much to be desired.
Sky's presenter Alex
Crawford, a lady with the heart
and soul of a true African, never mind the skin
She has seen action in
Libya, Mali and other dangerous spots on the
continent and would, we suspect, take the risk
just to make sure that the story is told as
vividly and as accurately as can be.
We continue to salute
her and reiterate our respect for her and the
team on the Ebola story must be commended. Given
the manner in which Ebola spreads, we believe
she and her team are really taking a huge risk.
We wish them well.
We wish the Accra
meeting on Ebola well.
UPDATE - We've just
heard that the rat has finally squeaked. Please
click on the picture on the right.