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World’s response to Ebola slow, inconsistent, inadequate: Médecins sans Frontières

EbolaWorld’s response to Ebola slow, inconsistent, inadequate: Médecins sans Frontières

Published 3 December 2014

The NGO Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has harshly criticized the international community for its slow and inconsistent response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. MSF says the world’s response risks creating “a double failure” because ill-equipped locals in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea have been left to run hospitals and treatment centers. MSF international president, Dr. Joanne Liu, said it was “extremely disappointing that states with biological-disaster response capacities have chosen not to deploy them.”

The NGO Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has harshly criticized the international community for its slow and inconsistent response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

MSF says the world’s response risks creating “a double failure” because ill-equipped locals in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea have been left to run hospitals and treatment centers.

MSF international president, Dr. Joanne Liu, said it was “extremely disappointing that states with biological-disaster response capacities have chosen not to deploy them.” She said people “are still dying horrible deaths in an outbreak that has already killed thousands” and urged the world not to be complacent. “We can’t let our guard down and allow this to become a ‘double failure’: a response that is slow to begin with, and then is ill-adapted in the end.”

Three months ago MSF issued a call for countries to get involved in the Ebola response. Liu criticized the concentration of international efforts on the construction of Ebola treatment centers without also providing staff and training, transport and laboratories.

Liu said that in rural areas of Liberia, where hopes had been raised that the Ebola infection rate had plateaued, there were still “active chains of transmission” and no transport facilities to test the patients. In Sierra Leone, the national Ebola response team was struggling, with callers to the emergency 117 helpline being told to isolate themselves at home.

“How is it that the international community has left the response to Ebola — now a transnational threat — up to doctors, nurses and charity workers?” said Liu.

The Guardian reports that MSF’s gloomy briefing paper on the three West African countries hardest hit by Ebola comes only a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was optimistic about the region despite rising numbers of reported cases.

Bruce Aylward, assistant director general in charge of emergencies at the WHO, said that “there has been a real slowdown in the spread of new cases” in Sierra Leone, where the disease is on the rise, and that “across west Africa we are no longer seeing exponential growth and in some areas a steady decline.”

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