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Liberia president describes heavy cost of Ebola

Liberia's president calls for more investment in health systems, news article, op-ed

ASSOCIATED PRESS                               Oct. 20, 2014

by Jonathan Paye-Layleh

Monrovia, Liberia — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Ebola has killed more than 2,000 people in her country and has brought it to “a standstill,” noting that Liberia and two other badly hit countries were already weakened by years of war.

Appealing for more international help, Sirleaf described the devastating effects of Ebola in a “Letter to the World” that was broadcast Sunday by the BBC.

“Across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced....”

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Global Economy Facing Environment, Sustainability Skills Deficit - October 16th, 2014

By 2020 the world economy could be facing a skills deficit driven by mega-trends such as population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, and soaring costs of energy, coupled with the impacts of climate change and ecosystem degradation, according to a report by the Institute of Environmental Management & Awareness.

Although the transition to a sustainable economy presents significant opportunities for business, according to an IEMA survey of over 900 organizations, only 13 percent of companies are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in the sustainable economy.


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UN Ebola trust fund gets $100,000, almost $1 bln needed

REUTERS                                 Oct. 17,2014

By Michelle Nichols and Lesley Wroughton

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A United Nations trust fund seeking nearly $1 billion for rapid, flexible funding of the most urgent needs to fight Ebola in West Africa has received a deposit of just $100,000 nearly a month after it was set up.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sept. 16 that $988 million is needed to tackle the deadly hemorrhagic fever over the next six months. Since then $365 million has been committed to stop Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, which have been hit hardest by the epidemic.

Nearly all that money was donated directly to U.N. agencies and nonprofits working in West Africa with just $100,000 paid by Colombia into the trust fund set up by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to U.N. records.

Some diplomats and officials said many donors had made commitments to U.N. agencies before the trust fund was established. Others said donors were already overstretched and suggested they might be wary of how money put into the trust fund would be spent.

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Ebola outbreak is not just a human tragedy. It’s also an economic one


WASHINGTON POST                           OCT. 15, 2014

By Ylan Q. Mui

"  the (Ebola) tragedy encompasses not only those who lost their lives and their families, but also the dreams of a country that was on the cusp on an economic resurgence. With critical public works projects in limbo and businesses struggling, the virus is threatening Liberia’s chance to escape generations of poverty and join Africa’s rising prosperity.

“Liberia was moving,” said Estrada Bernard, chairman of the International Bank in Liberia and the Liberian president’s brother-in-law. “'The whole thing hinges upon how well we can get this virus under control.'”

People do business at the Waterside local market in the center of Monrovia, Liberia, over the summer. Just as their economies had begun to recover from the man-made horror of coups and civil war, the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been knocked back down by the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh, File)

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Head of World Bank Makes Ebola His Mission

NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                        OCT. 14, 2014


During a tense discussion, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, spoke sharply to Dr. Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization, the agency in charge. You have the authority to act in this emergency, he told her, according to people familiar with the meeting, “so why aren’t you doing it?”

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Ebola outbreak threatens peace, security, WHO chief says

GENEVA — The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said Monday.

Chan, who dealt with the 2009 avian flu pandemic and the SARS outbreaks of 2002-03, said the Ebola outbreak had progressed from a public health crisis to “a crisis for international peace and security.”

“I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries,” she said in a statement delivered on her behalf to a conference in Manila, Philippines, and released by her office in Geneva. “I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.”

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Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director


By Sam Stein                                                              Updated Oct. 13 ,2014

BETHESDA, Md. -- As the federal government frantically works to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and as it responds to a second diagnosis of the disease at home, one of the country's top health officials says a vaccine likely would have already been discovered were it not for budget cuts.

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has "slowed down" research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

"NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'" Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."

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Ebola outbreak: Liberia health workers threaten to strike Monday

UPDATE  Liberia largely averts health worker strike that would have severely hampered Ebola response

ASSOCIATED PRESS            Updated: October 13, 2014 - 11:45 AM

By: JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH , Associated Press

MONROVIA, Liberia — Health workers reported for duty at Liberia's hospitals on Monday, largely defying calls for a strike that could have further hampered the country's ability to respond to the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Nurses and other health workers — though not doctors — had threatened to strike if they did not receive the higher hazard pay they had been promised by the government. That would have made the already difficult care of Ebola patients even harder, since the bulk of the staff at clinics and hospitals is made of up of Liberia's nurses, physician assistants and community health workers.

"Considering the situation in which we find ourselves we don't think strike is the way forward," said Dr. Jerry Brown, head of ELWA2, a treatment center on the outskirts of Monrovia. "Because if we strike now, more and more patients will remain in the communities. And as more and more patients remain in the communities, there will be more new cases and there will be a setback."

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Small drugmakers can't scale up quickly enough to get ahead of the virus

Two overviews of efforts by drug makers to produce Ebola medication.

WASHINGTON POST                 Oct. 10, 014

by Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis

WASHINGTON ..."It takes time. You end up with a situation where the companies weren't set up to ramp up productio. You don't just go from that to making 10,000 does overnight."  -- Prof. Thomas Galsbert, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Read full story

SCIENCE INSIDER                                        Oct. 8, 2014

By Jon Cohen and  Kai Kupferschmidt

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Fear of Ebola could have “catastrophic” economic costs, World Bank predicts

Washington POst                                   Oct. 8, 2014
By Max Ehrenfreund

A report issued Wednesday by the World Bank forecasts that the total economic impact of Ebola could exceed $32 billion by the end of 2015 if the virus spreads from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to neighboring countries.

That single dollar amount doesn't fully convey the extraordinary human toll of a virus that kills four in five of its victims and could infect as many 1.4 million people by January. Yet the World Bank's estimate is a reminder that sickness and death are only part of what could be a developing regional crisis....

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