Skip to content

Medical help short-handed in raging Ebola outbreak

By Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation
8/22/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

More qualified personnel needed to deal with broadening crisis, experts say

Hospitals battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa desperately need more staff, as local doctors leave their posts and foreign doctors are reluctant to come forward, medical experts said during an online debate on the disease.

More money and resources are desperately needed to improve local health systems.

More money and resources are desperately needed to improve local health systems.

Highlights

By Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/22/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Ebola, medical help, doctors, crisis


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Medical staff are among the most vulnerable to infection, and several have already died of the virus. Locals have no previous experience of Ebola, how to protect themselves or contain the disease.

"The fear factor is high, but people need to understand that Ebola can be controlled, be it within a clinic or within a country," said Francis Kasolo, coordinator of the World Health Organization's Sub-regional Ebola Outbreak Coordination Centre in Conakry, Guinea. He was one of five panelists at the debate organized by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

SAVE Iraqi Christians from Genocide --

The crisis is symptomatic of the state of local health systems, the panelists said. The three most seriously affected countries - Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia - have very few local doctors and nurses. Sierra Leone, for example, has only a few hundred local medical staff to serve a population of nearly 6 million, according to WHO figures.

Ambulances are also in short supply. Just four serve a population of about 470,000 in Kailahun district in eastern Sierra Leone, according to Anja Wolz, emergency coordinator for medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), who was recently in Sierra Leone.

There are not enough protective suits made to the right specification, and hospitals even lack gloves, the experts said.

Aid agencies and local authorities do not have enough resources to collect dead bodies safely. The panelists said they had heard reports of people in Liberia waiting 30 hours or more for someone to collect their dead.

Although some medical staff are fleeing their posts, many are staying despite the dangers.

"The heroic local doctors and nurses must be acknowledged and we need to find ways to remunerate them for their dangerous work," said Johan Von Schreeb, professor of international disaster medicine at the Karolinska Institut in Sweden.

QUARANTINE

In an attempt to contain the virus, Liberia imposed a quarantine in West Point, a large slum in the capital Monrovia, on August 19. Security forces have been deployed to stop people from entering or leaving the area.

Although quarantines are an effective way of stopping transmission in principle, in practice they are very difficult to maintain and have a major impact on those forced into isolation, said Korto Williams, country director for ActionAid Liberia.

"To do this and not have an effective plan for contact tracing, will not help to end the crisis," Williams said, referring to the need to trace all the people that Ebola patients have come into contact with.

A worker walks past newly erected quarantine tents at the expanded ELWA Ebola Treatment Centre on th

A worker walks past newly erected quarantine tents at the expanded ELWA Ebola Treatment Centre on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, in this UNICEF handout photo.


"Quarantine should not mean the creation of plague villages," he added. "Ebola affected communities must not be abandoned. There should be no 'no go' areas for health workers."

He added that trade and communications should be allowed to continue in areas under quarantine, to avoid further impoverishing those whose communities and livelihoods are already at risk.

CAN ANY GOOD COME OF THE OUTBREAK?

The outbreak will take many months to stabilize, Kasolo said.

In the meantime, local medical staff are gaining experience in how to treat and contain the epidemic, which will hopefully stand them in good stead in the future, some of the panelists said.

But more money and resources are desperately needed to improve local health systems.

Kasolo said that several donors are interested in building the health systems in West Africa.

"This is the marathon that will follow this run," he added.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for JULY 2017
Lapsed Christians.
That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.


Comments


More Africa

Two Catholic priests kidnapped after violent attack by 10 assailants Watch

Image of The Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be faced with extreme violence.

Two Catholic priests were abducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday night. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Father Charles ... continue reading


'Half-Man-Half-Beast sent by the Devil' sparks fear in South African village (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Image of A deformed stillborn lamb has caused a surge of fear in a South African village.

A sheep in South Africa has given birth to what the village elders are calling a "half-human-half-beast sent by the devil." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Murdered Priests: Clergy need protection in wake of horrifying circumstances Watch

Image of Bishop Balla's body determined the death was not a suicide.

After determining that one of their confreres was murdered two weeks ago, the bishops of Cameroon have called on the national government to ... continue reading


How to get Pope Francis to visit South Sudan: Bishops offer encouraging advice Watch

Image of Photo series shows a real-life situation in South Sudan. [photo by: Dream World - South Sudan]

The news that Pope Francis will not be able to visit South Sudan this year prompted the nation's bishops to voice reassurances that a ... continue reading


Suicide or Murder? Missing Bishop's body found dead in river Watch

Image of Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Balla's vehicle was found abandoned with a note reading, 'I am in the water.'

Cameroon Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Balla was found dead on June 1st. Bishop Balla was reported missing on May 30th after a note was ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.