Ebola response in rural Sierra Leone not yet rapid enough

REUTERS   by    Emma Farge                                                                                                 Dec. 21, 2014       
KOIDU, Sierra Leone -- The rapid response team has arrived and the chaos is easing, but medics in a remote Sierra Leonean district are struggling to control a local Ebola outbreak when it's too late to nip it in the bud.

Health workers rest outside a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Kono district in Eastern Sierra Leone December 19, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

A deployment of medical workers and equipment to Kono District has been the fastest so far in Sierra Leone, a country with nearly half the total Ebola cases,- under a strategy of tackling epidemic hotspots before they get too big.

But officials say responses need to be yet faster to fight the fever that has killed more than 7,000 people across West Africa.

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Opinions: Sierra Leone’s crisis deepens as doctors die of Ebola

WASHINGTON POST OP-ED by Claudena Skran                                                                      Dec. 20, 2014

No evacuation plane to the United States or Europe awaited Dr. Thomas Rogers in early December when he fell ill with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.

Instead, the highly trained physicianstruggled to be admitted to one of the few Ebola treatment centers in the West African country. After finally securing a bed, Rogers died on Dec. 5 , sharing the tragic course of the Ebola epidemic with his countrymen.

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Ebola Should Be Easy to Treat

NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY REVIEW   by Jeffrey Gettleman                                            Dec. 21, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --
...Ebola, however much some of its symptoms conjure up a horror film, is usually shockingly simple to treat. The virus is swift and ruthless, hideous and creepy, causing some patients to have bloody vomit, bloody diarrhea or even — in severe cases — bloody eyeballs. Ebola is one of the handful of viruses than can trigger a hemorrhagic fever, with internal bleeding, but in most cases the biggest threat is dehydration, which can be addressed by clean water and basic drugs.

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S Leone to withdraw Somalia troops over Ebola

African Union blocks troops rotation over Ebola fears, forcing Sierra Leone to withdraw its 850 soldiers from Somalia.

ALJAZERA     by     Hansa Mohamed                             Dec. 21, 2014

Sierra Leone is withdrawing its troops from Somalia after the African Union blocked the West African country from rotating its soldiers over fears for the Ebola virus.

Sierra Leone sent 850 troops to Somalia for a 12-month deployment to fight the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, in Somalia in 2013.

Their rotation was delayed after a group of 800 soldiers, who were waiting to replace their comrades in Somalia, were quarantined after one of the soldiers was tested positive for Ebola.

"They have to go. We wish they could have stayed but they have been here long. And there is no rotation possible because of the nature of the situation," Maman Sidou, the AU's special representative for Somalia said during a farewell event for the troops held in the port city of Kismayo on Friday.

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NHS Ebola staff ‘insulted’ by UK travel ban

Volunteers’ anger at restrictions imposed on their return home from west Africa

THE GUARDIAN by Tracy Mcveigh                                                                                   Dec. 21, 2014

As the latest of the six British-built Ebola treatment centres in west Africa admitted its first three patients this weekend, some of the volunteer NHS staff working there over Christmas said they felt insulted by a draconian ramping up of the protocols they have been told they will have to follow when they return to the UK.


A British health worker puts on protective clothes at a Red Cross clinic in eastern Sierra Leone. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Liberian voter turnout low as Ebola overshadows senate election

REUTERS  by James Harding Giahyue                                                                                     Dec. 20, 2014

MONROVIA--Turnout for Liberian parliamentary elections on Saturday appeared to be low as concerns about Ebola kept many voters at home.


Bystanders read the headlines illustrating the battle over the holding of elections in Liberia amid the Ebola crisis at a street side chalkboard newspaper in Monrovia, December 2, 2014. Credit: Reuters/James Giahyue

Polling stations were largely empty after voting began at 8 a.m. (3.00 a.m. ET) in the seafront capital Monrovia, with voters occasionally drifting in, despite precautions put in place by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Staff with temperature guns at polling stations checked voters for any signs of the hemorrhagic fever, which is spread via bodily fluids. Voters were obliged to wash their hands with chlorine solution, to stand at least three feet apart in the queue, and bring their own pens to mark the ballot paper, officials said.

Read complete story.

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Ebola death toll close to 7,400, says World Health Organisation

The Guardian    by Chris Johnston                                        Dec. 20, 2014

(Two items, scroll below.)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached nearly 7,400, with just over 19,000 people infected across west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, addresses health workers in Sierra Leone. Photograph: Evan Schneider/AFP/Getty Images

Sierra Leone reported 400 new fatalities this week, bringing the death toll there to 2,500. As of 18 December, it had the highest number of people infected by the virus – 8,800 cases, of which 6,900 were confirmed, according to the country’s health ministry.

The WHO is attempting to curb an outbreak in the west of the country, where the disease is spreading fastest, by sending a “massive surge of staff and resources” to the area.

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UN's Ban urges end to discrimination against Ebola workers

REUTERS --By Matthew Mpoke Bigg                                 Dec.20, 2014
CONAKRY--U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday urged countries affected by the Ebola virus to avoid discriminating against healthcare workers fighting to end the disease.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has his temperature checked upon arrival at the Roberts International airport in Liberia's capital Monrovia December 19, 2014. Credit: Reuters/James Giahyue

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic....

Ban's tour began in Liberia and Sierra Leone on Friday and will end later on Saturday in Ghana, site of the U.N. Ebola response mission (UNMEER), after a visit to Mali.

"There should be no discrimination for those who have been working or helping with Ebola. Those people are giving all of themselves," Ban told U.N. officials in Conakry.

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Ebola-Stricken Families to Receive Cash Payments

TIME MAGAZINE by ALexandra Sifferlin                                                                            Dec. 19, 2014

In 2015, the three Ebola-affected countries will start offering cash payments for families hit by Ebola, as well as survivors having trouble re-acclimating to society out of stigma for the disease.

Dudu Kromah’s husband died from Ebola. She is looking after ten children, many of them orphans including a 3-month-old baby. She has no income. Carly Learson—Carly Learson / UNDP

Every aspect of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone’s societies have taken a hit from Ebola, and the disease has shocked what were once fragile but growing economies....Every aspect of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone’s societies

“We are seeing a backwards slide of development of about 10 years,” says Boaz Paldi, chief of media and advocacy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “The outlook is not good. We are fearful for these countries.”

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CSIS Podcast - Ebola in West Africa

csis.org - Center for Strategic and International Studies

The CSIS podcast “Ebola in West Africa” has been named by Apple as one of its “Best of 2014” podcasts on iTunes U.

“Ebola in West Africa” was produced by Sahil Angelo, a young professional who works in the CSIS Global Health Policy Center in conjunction with our team of multi-media professionals in the CSIS Ideas Lab.

CSIS multimedia is available on iTunes, iTunes U and on www.CSIS.org/multimedia

CLICK HERE - iTunes - Ebola in West Africa

CLICK HERE - Tweet - iTunes U - Best of 2014

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State Ebola Protocols

CDC                                                                                                                Dec. 19, 2014

 The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the US. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the further spread of Ebola within the US

CDC/OSTLTS Public Health Law Program and Office of the Associate Director for Policy compiled an Interim Table of State Ebola Screening and Monitoring Policies for Asymptomatic Individuals[PDF 826KB] to help law and policy makers prepare for and respond to Ebola-related situations.

See complete report.


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Ebola: limitations of correcting misinformation

THE LANCET                                                                                                              Dec.18, 2014
Communication and social mobilisation strategies to raise awareness about Ebola virus disease and the risk factors for its transmission are central elements in the response to the current Ebola outbreak in west Africa.1 A principle underpinning these efforts is to change risky "behaviour" related to "traditional" practices and "misinformation".

 Populations at risk of contracting Ebola virus disease have been exhorted to “put aside, tradition, culture and whatever family rites they have and do the right thing”....Such messages follow logically from clinical and epidemiological framings of contagion.

They pay little attention, however, to the historical, political, economic, and social contexts in which they are delivered....

Read the complete article.


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In Sierra Leone, the ghosts of war haunt an Ebola graveyard

WASHINGTON POST      by Kevin Sieff                                                                                      Dec. 19, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — To find Andrew Kondoh, walk through the gates of this city’s largest cemetery, where teams in moonsuits bury more than 50 bodies in white plastic bags each day. Look for the man with the wispy goatee and big belly, who is overseeing one of the world’s most chaotic, dangerous graveyards as if he’s done it all before.

That’s because he has.

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Ebola: ‘Regrettable loss’ caused by warehouse fire in Guinea

UNITED NATIONS NEWS CENTRE                                Dec. 18, 2014
A fire engulfed a United Nations warehouse in Guinea Thursday today that contained medicines and laboratory materials used for the fight against Ebola, causing no casualties but “a regrettable loss” in supplies, which the UN mission there vowed to quickly replace. An investigation into the fire was underway.
UN warehouse with EbolaResponse supplies catches fire in Guinea. Emergency personnel seen here try to contain the flames. Photo: UNMEER

"This is a regrettable loss, but no one was hurt and we will move quickly together with our partners to replace the lost supplies", said Anthony Banbury, Head of the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER).

UNMEER reported that the fire in the warehouse, mainly containing medicines and laboratory materials, was discovered around 8:00 a.m. local time when workers arrived at facility in the main humanitarian logistics base of the airport and of the city of Conakry, the capital of Guinea – one of the three most affected countries by Ebola in West Africa.

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GSK Ebola vaccine trial seen moving to wider phase in February

REUTERS                                                                                              Dec. 19, 2014

Trials of GlaxoSmithKline's experimental Ebola vaccine are likely to move to a second phase in February, later than previously suggested, after a meeting of national regulators said they needed more information.

The World Health Organization, which hosted a meeting of national regulatory authorities and ethics committees earlier this week, said they had thoroughly discussed all aspects of the proposed trials at the two-day meeting.

"Reviewing countries requested additional documentation from the manufacturer of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, before authorization of the trials," the WHO said in a statement.

Countries where the trials are planned -- Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal -- should receive and review the additional information by the end of January.

"If these steps are completed to the satisfaction of the national authorities, Phase II trials are likely to begin in February," the statement said.

The GSK vaccine is already undergoing Phase I trials, to check its safety in humans, in Switzerland, Britain, Mali and the United States, and is one of the two leading candidate vaccines for Ebola already undergoing tests.

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