West Africa: Ebola epidemic now out of control

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With Ebola continuing to spread in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, bringing the epidemic under control will require a massive deployment of resources by governments in West Africa and aid organisations, according to the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), while warning that it has reached the limits of what its teams can do. 

Ebola patients have been identified in more than 60 separate locations across the three countries, complicating efforts to treat patients and curb the outbreak.

“The epidemic is out of control,” says Dr Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations. “With the appearance of new sites in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, there is a real risk of it spreading to other areas.”

MSF is currently the only aid organisation treating people affected by the virus, which can kill up to 90 percent of those infected.

Since the outbreak began in March, MSF has treated some 470 patients, 215 of them confirmed cases, in specialised centres set up in the region. However, MSF is having difficulty responding to the large number of new cases and locations.

“We have reached our limits,” says Janssens. “Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites.”


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