Ebola: UN forum urges debt relief for hard-hit countries, as search for faster diagnostics gets underway

UNITED NATONS NEWS CENTRE                                                                                      Dec. 15, 2014
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today recommended that creditors should seriously consider debt cancellation for the countries worst-hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and also projected that even if those most affected were to register zero economic growth, the impact on Africa as a continent would be minimal.

With the cost of transport and goods going up and sales going down since the Ebola outbreak, vendors in Waterside Market, Monrovia, Liberia, are making no profit to support their families. Photo: UNDP/Morgana Wingard

“Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with,” according to study on the Socio-Economic Impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on Africa released today by the Addis-Ababa based UN regional forum.

In other news, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) announced that nine companies have made 19 submissions of proposed diagnostic tests for Ebola.

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Finally, Germany Makes Progress on Coal

forbes.com - November 3rd, 2014 - Richard Martin

For critics who scoff that Europe’s carbon emission reduction goals are unachievable, Germany has become Exhibit No. 1. Since Chancellor Angela Merkel decreed in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident that Germany would phase out its nuclear power industry, coal use in Germany has been on the rise, and the country’s carbon emissions have remained stubbornly high.

Now it appears that tide may be turning.


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WHO Ebola response chief says virus still spreading due to lack of change in behaviors

REUTERS                                                                                                                       Dec. 15, 2014

GENEVA –  The failure of Sierra Leone's strategy for fighting Ebola may be down to a missing ingredient: a big shock that could change people's behavior and finally prevent further infection.

Bruce Aylward, the head of Ebola response at the World Health Organization, said Sierra Leone was well placed to contain the disease -- its worst outbreak on record -- with infrastructure, organization and aid.


Health workers spray themselves with chlorine disinfectants after removing the body a woman who died of Ebola virus in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, Sierra Leone. (REUTERS/Josephus Olu-Mammah)

The problem is that its people have yet to be shocked out of behavior that is helping the disease to spread, still keeping infected loved ones close and touching the bodies of the dead.

"Every new place that gets infected goes through that same terrible learning curve where a lot of people have to die ... before those behaviors start to change," Aylward told Reuters.

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An Ebola Orphan’s Plea in Africa: ‘Do You Want Me?’

NEW YORK TIMES by Jeffrey Gettleman                                                                  Dec. 14, 2014
PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone --
...After her mother died, the young girl (four years old) stood outside the clinic’s gates looking around with enormous brown eyes. There was no one to pick her up. She was put on the back of a motorbike and taken to a group home, whose bare, dim hallways she now wanders alone. Social workers are trying to find someone to adopt her, and Sweetie Sweetie seems to know she is up for grabs.

On a recent day she asked a visitor: “Do you want me?”

Sweetie Sweetie, center, with other Ebola orphans at a group home in Sierra Leone. She is seen by neighbors as a potential carrier. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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Health Care Worker Quarantine for Ebola: To Eradicate the Virus or Alleviate Fear?

ANNALS OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE                                                                               Dec. 11, 014
By Kristi Koenig, MD, Center for Disaster Medical Sciences, University of California at Irvine

Despite our global experience with emerging infectious diseases, politicians empowered with making health policy decisions and even some scientists have created confusion, fear, and stigmatization of health care workers by inconsistent use of quarantine....

Instead of trying to allay public fears by misapplication of quarantine, we should instead educate according to rigorous science and apply evidence-based policies and procedures. Modern technologies exist for robust public health monitoring that can replace an antiquated system of quarantine for exposed persons who have no potential to transmit disease before symptom onset. Health care workers who have cared for Ebola patients and are asymptomatic should not be restricted from work or other activities as long as they can be effectively monitored for symptoms and then isolated and tested if those develop. Politicians must heed their scientific advisors and not be swayed by misinformed public fear. In addition, we should seek out and apply these simple modern technologic solutions that maximize public health and safety.

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Horror in Sierra Leone: A Single Spark Gives Ebola New Life

NBC NEWS      by  Maggie Fox                                                                                               Dec. 15, 2014
In especially deadly outbreak of Ebola burned unseen in a remote part of Sierra Leone for several weeks, giving public health experts a reality check. It's also a perfect embodiment of the warning that they've been giving for months: that a single spark can set off a conflagration of disease and death.

It happened in Kono, a remote district bordering Guinea. World Health Organization workers heard rumors of deaths and traveled there to find scenes out of a horror movie. At least 87 people had died and been hastily buried, often without the precautions needed to stop the corpses from infecting the living....

What happened in Kono illustrates just how fragile any success is.

It's likely that just one person carried the virus there from an affected area, and without precautions in place, it spread like wildfire.

Read complete story.

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What an Ebola curfew looks like

Killian Doherty, an Irish architect working for the Architectural Field Office (AFO), has been in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, for much of the Ebola epidemic. He documented the curfews in some dramatic photographs

THE GUARDIAN by Killian Doherty and René Boer for Failed Architecture                                   Dec. 15, 2014

FREETOWN -- Sierra Leone has been severely affected by Ebola. Over the last six months, the country has seen a high death toll, immense human suffering and a wide range of restrictive measures that have hampered economic and urban life. Most dramatically, in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, the authorities have instituted a set of curfews that have forced residents to stay at home, resulting in a seemingly deserted city. 


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Ebola-Zone Airline Capacity to Outside World Declines Up to 81%

BLOOMBERG by Chris Jasper and Simeon Bennett                                                                          Dec. 15, 2014

The number of airline seats on offer between Liberia, the African nation with the most deaths from the Ebola outbreak, and the outside world has dropped 81 percent in the past year, according to official capacity figures.

Seat availability to Sierra Leone will be 75 percent lower in January than it was a year earlier, while the total for Guinea will be down 39 percent, flight scheduling database provider OAG said today in a report.

Kenyan health officials prepare to receive arriving passengers at an observation area at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Oct. 28. The number of flights in the Ebola zone has plummeted after outside carriers scrapped services in response to the spread of the disease... Photographer:Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

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Ebola serum supply reaches Liberia

BBC                                                              Dec. 15, 2014

Liberia has begun treating Ebola patients with serum therapy - a treatment made from the blood of recovered survivors.

Doctors hope the experimental treatment could help combat the virus that has been sweeping West Africa and killing thousands of people.

If a person has successfully fought off the infection, it means their body has learned how to combat the virus and they will have antibodies in their blood that can attack Ebola.

Doctors in Liberia will monitor how safe and effective is the serum treatment being given at the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia.

 Dr David Hoover, the programme's director, said: "This will empower local health care systems to become more self-sufficient and better serve their patients during this current epidemic as well as in the future."

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Health Liberia Postpones Elections Again Because of Ebola

Assoicated Press By JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH                Dec. 14, 2014

MONROVIA-- Officials in Ebola-stricken Liberia have postponed senatorial elections until the end of the week, while some urged calling off the vote for fear the results would not be credible.

Ebola has killed nearly 3,200 people this year in Liberia, and many question whether elections can be held at all under such circumstances.

The elections, first scheduled in October, were supposed to be held Monday, but have been moved back to Saturday. It was not immediately clear whether the extra days would be sufficient delay to address the logistical problems posed by Ebola.

While health authorities say the situation has stabilized somewhat in recent weeks, there are fears that mass gatherings at polling stations could spark a new surge in Ebola cases...

Alaric Tokpa, from the opposition National Democratic Alliance, walked out of Sunday's meeting, telling the AP as he departed that the elections would not be credible.

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12th Sierra Leonean physician contracts Ebola amid junior doctor go-slow

ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                      Dec. 14, 2014
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — An official in Sierra Leone says one of the country's top doctors has contracted the Ebola virus.

Dr. Victor Willoughby is the 12th Sierra Leonean physician to become infected — 10 of whom have died.

Government Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo confirmed Sunday that Willoughby had tested positive for Ebola.

Junior doctors in Sierra Leone last week launched a strike to demand better medical treatment for health workers who contract the disease. Kargbo said Sunday that skeleton crews have returned to aid the senior doctors.

Complete story

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Congress releases FY15 Omnibus

COMPILED BY THE GLOBAL RESILIENCE SYSTEM                                                          Dec. 14, 2014

Congressional Actions and The Obama Administration requests for emergency funding for Ebola.

Contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal year 2015 passed by the Senate Sunday and earlier by the House.

(Five links, scroll down.)

Tables showing actual approved appropriations, Compiled by Kaiser Foundation

FY15 CROmnibus - PT Entry (12-9-14) Table 2 - 80p

      Note: Congressional ddid not approve the Administration's  requested $1.5 million contigency fund.

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Ebola: UN envoy calls for “big surge” in efforts to reduce transmission rates in Sierra Leone

UNITED NATIONS NEWS CENTRE                                                                                    Dec. 13, 2014
Amid a spike in Ebola transmission rates in Sierra Leone, the United Nations envoy coordinating the massive global crisis response has travelled to the West African nation to help implement a surge in efforts to contain the outbreak.

Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), views an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Ebola Treatment Centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone. (November 2014) UNMEER Photo/Ari Gaitanis

 “We need to put in place a big surge to get those case numbers down, and we've been working on implementing that surge in the last week,” Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), said in a press release following his two-day visit to the country's capital, Freetown, from 11 to 12 December. With some 8,069 cases, Sierra Leone is now the worst-affected country in West Africa, according to UNMEER's latest data. Together, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have so far registered over 18,000 cases of Ebola, including more than 6,300 deaths.

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Sierra Leone’s Ebola Epidemic Is Spiraling Out of Control

Why has Liberia -- once the epicenter of the outbreak -- been able to stop a rampaging killer disease, while the country next door can't even count its dead?


foreignpolicy.com - by Laurie Garrett - December 10, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — It was a terribly disturbing sight. At first glance, Connaught Hospital in central Freetown looked unremarkable; the Sierra Leone facility featured a walk-in and ambulance entrance that led to typical hospital hallways and a central patients’ garden. But the entry was flanked by tented structures — on the left, a table at which sat three men, sweating in full protection suits, goggles, gloves, and masks. On the right was what appeared to be a wood-fenced pen with a sun-shading tarp over it, suitable for livestock. Patients and visitors were required to approach the suited men on the left for triage: If they had a fever or nausea they were sent to the pen.


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They survived Ebola only to become social outcasts

USA TODAY  by Greg Zoroya                                                                                          Dec. 13, 2014

MONROVIA, Liberia — Landlords won't rent to them. Employers won't hire them. Taxi drivers won't give them a lift. Barber shops refuse to cut their hair without gloves.

Juliet Boima, 19, a survivor who works at the ebola clinic since she is immune now. Despite being unable to contract ebola, she still must wear protective gear to eliminate the chance that she could carry the virus to someone else.(Photo: Gregory H Stemn for USA TODAY)

They are Ebola survivors. In one place where they are desperately needed as workers, Ebola treatment clinics, many survivors have nightmarish memories of barely staying alive.

Thousands of West Africans have beaten the odds and survived Ebola. More than 6,500 people have died in the outbreak, and only 30% who have contracted Ebola have survived the aggressive disease that robs the body of fluids and causes major organs to fail.

Most who emerge from the clinics fully recovered discover a cruel society eager to distance itself from them and the plague.

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