Doctors Without Borders say it will take ‘at least’ six months to contain Ebola
The International President of Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF, (Doctors Without Borders), Joanne Liu, said in Geneva on Friday that it would take at least six months to bring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa under control.
She said the situation was like “wartime’’ and required greater leadership from the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Ms. Liu, after a 10-day trip to Liberia, stressed that there should be an upper hand on the epidemic over the next six months.
She insisted that more experts were needed on the ground to achieve this.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the scale of the outbreak appeared to be “vastly underestimated” and that “extraordinary measures” were needed.
The epidemic began in Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
On Friday, the death toll rose to 1,145 after WHO said 76 new deaths had been reported in the two days to 13th August. There have been 2,127 cases reported.
Ms Liu said that although Guinea was the initial epicentre, the pace there had slowed, and other countries – particularly Liberia – were now the focus.
“If we don’t stabilise Liberia, we will never stabilise the region”, she said.
“In terms of timeline, we’re not talking in terms of weeks, we’re talking in terms of months. We need a commitment for months, at least I would say six months, and I’m being, I would say, very optimistic”.
Ms Liu also called for more action from the international community and stronger leadership from WHO – the UN’s health agency.
“All governments must act. It must be done now if we want to contain this epidemic”, she said.
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is infected.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.
The WHO – which declared a global health emergency last week – recently said the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel remained low, as the disease is not airborne.