Friday, August 08, 2014

WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak a Global Health Emergency

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

At a news conference in Geneva Friday, WHO director Margaret Chan said the announcement is "a clear call for international solidarity.''

She said the countries affected by the deadly virus "simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity," as she appealed for greater international aid.

The impact of the WHO declaration is unclear.
On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its emergency operation center at the highest level in response to the outbreak.

CDC chief Thomas Frieden told a congressional hearing on Ebola that the centers will soon have 50 disease experts in West Africa. He said he is confident no major outbreak in the U.S. will happen.

The current Ebola outbreak is on pace to infect more people than all other outbreaks of the virus combined.

The World Health Organization says Ebola has now killed more than 930 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The total number of cases stands at more than 1,700.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears. Initial symptoms of the disease are often similar to malaria.

1 comment:

  1. Statement by Commissioner Borg on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa....

    “Today we have learned that World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the worsening situation regarding the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

    Over the last eight months this outbreak has claimed the lives of over 900 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and has recently affected people from Nigeria and the USA.

    In the last few days we have heard that an EU patient - a Spanish national, who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, has been repatriated to Spain to receive health care.

    My thoughts are with the victims and their families. I pay tribute to the affected communities in their struggles and the many thousands of people who are engaged in front line efforts to combat Ebola – including many volunteers from the EU.

    As European Commissioner for Health I want to reassure citizens that the risk from Ebola to EU territories is extremely low. This is both because relatively few people travelling to the EU are likely to be infected with the virus, and because of the way in which it spreads, i.e. only through direct contact with the symptomatic patient’s body fluids.

    It is also important to consider that the EU has very high standards of health and preventive care.

    The EU has been following the situation in West Africa for many months and, in the unlikely event of Ebola reaching the EU, we are prepared in the face of the virus.

    The Commission is working on preparedness and coordination of risk management together with Member States and with the support of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and WHO. The EU Health Security Committee, established under the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on serious cross border threats to health is coordinating the exchange of information and coordination of preparedness, in response to Ebola in the EU. Information for travellers to the affected regions is already available and regularly updated.

    The Commission is also active on the ground in West Africa, and my colleague, Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response recently announced scaled up EU funding in response to the outbreak. See IP-14-891.

    In this grave situation it is essential that we all cooperate together in a spirit of solidarity. I am confident that together, with the support of people in the affected countries and our own citizens that the present outbreak will be successfully contained.”


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