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Africa Solidarity Trust Fund grants FAO $1.5 million to support Ebola-hit countries
December 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Grant is part of $6.5 million to boost Africa-wide initiatives including youth employment and South-South Cooperation   [caption id="attachment_14485" align="alignleft" width="300"]A Sierra Leone farmer bundling harvested rice to be threshed A Sierra Leone farmer bundling harvested rice to be threshed[/caption] 2 December 2014, Rome/Accra – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic, will each receive $500 000 to help curb the potentially devastating impact of the disease on food security and on the livelihoods of farmers and others in rural areas. The $1.5 million grant comes from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund and will be used in support of FAO’s recently launched Regional Response Programme to tackle food security and agriculture issues related to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa. The funds will be used over a 12-month period to assist 7 500 households – about 45 000 people – in the three targeted countries. Activities include social mobilization and training to help stop the spread of EVD; the strengthening of savings and loan schemes, particularly those involving women beneficiaries; and the provision of agricultural inputs to help rural families safeguard their livelihoods and incomes. The agreement is one of three signed today in which the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is granting a total of $6.5 million to support FAO’s work in continent-wide programmes including youth employment in rural areas and South-South Cooperation. “The grants made available today signal the ongoing willingness of African countries to assist each other, not only during times of urgent need, as is the case now with the Ebola crisis, but also to secure their continent’s future growth and prosperity”, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund for Food Security is a unique initiative for mobilizing resources from Africa for Africa with potential to help wipe out hunger and build resilience of vulnerable people”, declared, Crisantos Obama Ondo Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the Rome-based UN agencies and Chair of the Steering Committee for the ASFT. Commenting on the new grants, Sierra Leone Minister of Agriculture Joseph Sam Sesay said: “Beyond the current human tragedy, Ebola also threatens to reverse the hard-earned development achievements of the entire region of West Africa. We thus warmly welcome the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund’s support as a true example of ‘Africans for Africans’ solidarity.” More funds urgently needed to thwart Ebola threat Last month FAO appealed to donors for the estimated $30 million urgently required to mitigate the impact of EVD on the food and nutritional security of affected communities in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and neighbouring at-risk countries. FAO has already committed around $1.8 million of its own emergency funds to the agency’s Ebola Regional Response Programme and the grant made available by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is a much-needed contribution to FAO’s efforts. New milestones for “by Africans for Africans” initiative The other two agreements signed with the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund will support two FAO programmes: helping to create jobs for young people and women in the continent’s rural areas; and safeguarding food security in Africa through South-South Cooperation amongst African countries. The programme on enhancing employment opportunities for rural youth, run by FAO in partnership with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) will receive $4 million. Activities include helping countries to draw up and implement policies to boost enterprise development in rural areas and the transfer of entrepreneurship skills. Today, the FAO Director-General and NEPAD Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki, signed a Letter of Intent through which the two organizations agree to join forces to implement the project. “This programme is a concrete way to empower young men and women with the necessary capacities and skills to engage in the socio-economic transformation of their countries. The joint implementation of the programme demonstrates the strong partnership that exists between FAO and the NEPAD Agency,” Mayaki said. The second initiative relates to Africa’s South-South Cooperation Facility for Agriculture and Food Security. It will receive $1 million to support African countries share and exchange development solutions including knowledge, expertise, best practices, innovations, technologies, innovative policies and resources. About the fund The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. It includes contributions from Equatorial Guinea ($30 million), Angola ($10 million) and a symbolic contribution by civil society organizations in the Republic of the Congo. Since its inception, the Fund has already provided financing for projects in 30 countries including building resilience for conflict affected rural communities, reducing rural poverty through youth employment opportunities and building best practices to increase crop and livestock production. Administered by FAO in partnership with key collaborators, the Fund aims to pool resources from Africa’s strongest economies and use them across the continent to implement initiatives in the framework of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity and food security in the region. It is governed by a steering committee currently consisting of Equatorial Guinea, Angola, the Chair of the Africa Group, the Chair of the Regional Conference for Africa, the African Union and FAO. *FAO]]>

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Who Survives Ebola? Analysis Of First Cases In Sierra Leone Reveals Insights
October 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Julie Steenhuysen*

CHICAGO, Oct 29 (Reuters) – An analysis of the first Ebola cases in Sierra Leone helps draw a clearer picture of why some people survive the disease, while others do not, including their age and the pace at which the virus replicates within their body.

A healthcare worker in protective gear sprays disinfectant around the house of a person suspected to have Ebola virus in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

A healthcare worker in protective gear sprays disinfectant around the house of a person suspected to have Ebola virus in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The study published Wednesday is based on data gathered from 106 patients diagnosed with Ebola at the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone from May 25 to July 18. Some of the data on this group was incinerated because of fears that the nurses’ station where the records were kept became contaminated.

But the team managed to analyze detailed clinical records from a total of 44 Ebola patients, the biggest trove yet from the outbreak in West Africa that has killed nearly 5,000 people.

“This is the first time anybody has had this much data collected on any Ebola patients,” said Dr. John Schieffelin of Tulane University in New Orleans, an author of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

He said the findings help confirm some of the observations seen by doctors treating patients with Ebola.

It shows, for example, that 57 percent of people under age 21 who were treated for Ebola died from their infections, compared with 94 percent of those over the age of 45.

In the cases studied, the virus took six to 12 days to incubate before patients developed symptoms, and 74 percent of the patients in the study died, similar to what has been seen in prior outbreaks.

Fever was the most common symptom, occurring in 89 percent of patients, followed by headache (80 percent), weakness (66 percent), dizziness (60 percent) diarrhea (51 percent), abdominal pain (40 percent) and vomiting (34 percent).

However, there were some big differences in how individual patients responded to the virus, Schieffelin said.

“There were people who had very mild cases, and there are people who have very severe cases and they go downhill quickly,” he said.

One surprise was the significant difference in the amount of virus present in patients when they came in for treatment, a factor that affected whether or not they survived.

For example, 33 percent of patients with less than 100,000 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood at diagnosis ultimately died, compared with 94 percent mortality in those whose had more than 10 million copies per milliliter.

Among the various symptoms in this outbreak, Schieffelin said diarrhea is a “really big feature of it,” suggesting that doctors treating Ebola patients need to be very aggressive in administering intravenous fluids.

Bleeding, a key feature of Ebola in prior outbreaks, was rare among this population, with only 1 patient having this symptom, the study found.

Some researchers have questioned the value of spending resources on studying Ebola during the outbreak rather than using those funds to help curb the epidemic directly. Schieffelin said the analysis offers important insights for healthcare workers fighting the current outbreak, including data that can be used to determine new treatment and diagnostic approaches.

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West Africa: The economic impact of Ebola
October 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

ebolaoverallsreutersOf the 16 countries in West Africa only three – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – are affected by the Ebola virus. Nevertheless, it is having an economic impact on not only these affected countries but many others in the region. Several West African countries have significant numbers of expatriate workers in critical sectors of the economy and the fear of Ebola has caused almost a mass movement of foreigners back to their home countries. The weak healthcare infrastructure of most countries in the region does not inspire confidence in the expatriate population to remain. In Ghana, for example, a country with no reported cases of Ebola, some global companies have evacuated non-essential foreign personnel. For countries affected by the virus it is much worse. Across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, foreigners are naturally showing even greater levels of caution, including the Chinese who in the last few years have invested heavily in Africa. Recently, critical projects have stalled as a result of Ebola. For example, in Liberia, a World Bank contract for the construction of a road between Liberia and Guinea, expected to facilitate trade, has been suspended as the Chinese contractor, China Henan International Cooperation Group, pulled out its workers. Across West Africa, the sectors most likely to be affected are trade, tourism and agriculture. Trade Having been stuck below 10% in all trade over the years, trade within the region was beginning to increase following concerted efforts by governments to facilitate the movement of goods and services. But border closures by countries like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, as well as travel bans by airlines to the worst affected countries, will have a significantly adverse effect on trade in the region. We have also seen the postponement of investments by foreign investors who are waiting to see the outcome of the disease. One of the attractions of West Africa for investment is the size of the market, and the huge number of deaths caused by Ebola has effectively reduced this so investors are clearly cautious about the timing of their investments in the region. Tourism Airlines, hotels and travel companies are expected to suffer reductions in revenues. The World Travel and Tourism Council, which represents airlines, hotels and other travel companies recently stated that early indications suggest a decline of 30% in bookings to the region. Gambia, which derives 16% of its GDP from tourism, is perhaps the worst affected in the region. The start of the tourism season in October has seen significantly lower number of tourists than in previous years with an anticipated 50-60% decline in numbers, according to the tourism minister of Gambia, Benjamin Thomas. In a country where half the population live below the poverty line and are dependent on this industry for their livelihood, we can expect a worsening of their conditions. Agriculture Another sector badly hit by the crisis is the agriculture sector. In Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Liberia, there have been disruptions due to farmers staying away from farmlands and market places to the detriment of the agriculture sector. Outside these countries, there are also concerns regarding the impact on agriculture production, with cocoa a critical area. West Africa produces 70% of the world’s global cocoa supply with Ghana and Ivory Coast accounting for 60%. This could be threatened if the virus continues its spread and extends to these countries. With so many disruptions to the productive sectors of the region’s economy, there will be a fiscal gap which must be managed. With aid coming in to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, consideration has to be given to how the fiscal gap can be contained as well. Overall impact The economic impact of Ebola is such that the IMF has now reduced its growth projections for the region to 5% from 5.5%. The World Bank shares this outlook, revising growth estimates for the three countries. It warns that the disease, if not successfully contained, could cost the West African economy US$32 billion in 2015. The World Bank expects that GDP growth in Sierra Leone will only be 8.3% (down from 11.3%), with agriculture among the worst affected sectors, and also causing a slow down in mining operations. Guinea’s growth estimate is down to 2.4% from 4.5%, the worst hit sector is again agriculture. And Liberia, one of the smallest economies in the world, has had its growth projections reduced to 2.5% from 5.9% with projections of zero or negative growth in 2015 – with mining and agriculture the worst hit sectors in the country. Overall, the World Bank estimates that the Liberian economy has declined by US$113m as a result of the crisis; Sierra Leone by US$95m; and Guinea by US$120m. In all of this, with people acting on their primal instincts to survive, consideration must be given to how actions to halt the spread of the disease may impact the economy and the long-term future health of citizens of the region. And, for those in the worst-hit nations of Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Liberia, even if the disease is stemmed today, the economic impact will be felt for many more years to come. *Source the African Report .The author, Enase Okonedo, is Dean of Lagos Business School at Lagos Business School. This article was first published by The Conversation  ]]>

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Americans Are Really Confused About Which African Countries Have Ebola
October 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

* WASHINGTON — Africa is really big. It’s bigger than not only the United States but all of North America. Nigeria EbolaYet judging by the reactions of some Americans, it would seem that Africa were nothing but a small country, and any travel there means you likely will get Ebola. In reality, only five countries in Africa have had Ebola cases in the current outbreak. All of them — Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone — are located in the western part of the continent, and Nigeria and Senegal have since been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization after going six weeks without any new cases. The United States, meanwhile, is stilltreating two nurses who contracted Ebola after they treated a Dallas patient with the virus. Nevertheless, Ebola-free African countries have been hit by ignorance, with tourists canceling safaris to places like Kenya, and academic institutions in the United States postponing visits. Even within the United States, individuals of African descent from places like Rwanda are facing discrimination by people who believe they may carry Ebola. “The tragedy of Ebola goes far beyond the heartbreaking suffering of the people in hardest-hit West Africa,” Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Florida-based Big Five Tours and Expeditions, told The Los Angeles Times. “Behind the scenes, another lesser known level of devastation is taking place. Tourism to Africa’s great wildlife destinations including Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Botswana is in free-fall, as travelers scheduled to go on safari holidays cancel in droves.” Below are some ways Ebola paranoia is affecting Ebola-free countries. The countries that have had Ebola cases — even the ones that have been declared Ebola-free in recent days — are red. The country being referenced is blue. ETHIOPIA: Three students who had recently returned from a mission trip to Ethiopia set off Ebola fears at an Oklahoma high school. On Monday, 18 students refused to show up for class after rumors circulated on social media. “Our students were not exposed to Ebola,” said the school superintendent Dr. Kent Holbrook. “There was no person that was sick on the trip. There was no person sick [in] Ethiopia while they were there. There was no person on the plane.” T.J. Helling, the youth pastor who organized the trip, also lamented that the three students were being ostracized. “They did more in the last ten days then post people do in their lifetime for other people. We need to remember that we’re here to encourage them and support them. Not beat them down,” Helling said. KENYA: Kenya is one of Africa’s tourism hot spots, and it’s been suffering from geographic ignorance during the Ebola outbreak. Blake Fleetwood, of Cook Travel in New York, told the Associated Press in September that he has had 14 groups cancel their safaris in Kenya or South Africa. Some of his clients, he said, “figure somebody from Sierra Leone is going to go to Morocco and the infection is going to spread through the continent.” .In the United States, the University of New Mexico canceled a trip for 24 students to go to Kenya to work on various health projects. And in West Virginia, an elementary school teacher who went on a mission trip to Kenya with her church will have to stay home for three weeks — the time during which Ebola symptoms may appear — and is cleared by several doctors. RWANDA: Two students who had moved from Rwanda and were ready for a fresh start at their new school in Maple Shade, New Jersey, are now being kept home due to parents’ fears about Ebola. “Anybody from that area should just stay there until all this stuff is resolved. There’s nobody affected here let’s just keep it that way,” said parent John Povlow, ignoring the fact that New Jersey is actually closer to Texas — where there have been cases of Ebola — than Rwanda is to West Africa. The students’ enrollment became an issue after the school district notified teachers, and word then leaked out to parents. According to Fox 29, the family has agreed to keep their children home for 21 days. On Sunday, Rwanda announced that it would be putting travelers coming from the United States and Spain through special screening to test for Ebola. The country has now backtracked on that measure, though. SOUTH AFRICA: A North Carolina teacher who recently returned from a mission trip in South Africa is being barred from coming back to work for three weeks because people are afraid she may have Ebola. “We just feel like we have to err on the side of caution,” said Sonya Cox, a member of the school board. Another community member said he thought it was “a bad mistake, an unwise choice” that the teacher went on that trip. South Africa also has a bustling tourism industry, and the World Bank recently concluded that a drop in activity due to Ebola fears could have “significant implications for economic growth.” UGANDA: School officials in Catoosa County, Georgia, aretrying to reassure parents about two students who are returning from a church mission trip in Uganda. Summer Hennessee, a parent with children at the school, said she didn’t want them to be “susceptible” to something they might catch while passing through an airport. School officials put out a statement pointing out that Uganda is 3,000 miles from the Ebola hot zone in West Africa. In Pewaukee, Wisconsin, four families kept their children at home when the school recently hosted a priest and a teacher from their sister campus in Uganda. “I don’t think people know that Uganda is approximately 3,000 miles away from where West Africa and other outbreaks are,” said Pewaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Sternke. ZIMBABWE: The country has already lost about $6 millionin tourism revenue as a result of people canceling their trips over Ebola fears, according to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke. “We have had cancellations (for paid for bookings). People had paid for holidays in Zimbabwe and are demanding their monies back,” said Kaseke. *Source Huffington Post .More than 30 foreign buyers also pulled out of a tourism conference last week over Ebola fears. Sarah Harvard and Diane Jeanty contributed reporting.]]>

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Africa Union chief to visit Ebola-hit nations
October 23, 2014 | 1 Comments

images (1)African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will travel to three west African nations worst hit by the Ebola crisis, one of the most senior officials to do so since the outbreak, her spokesman said Wednesday.

AU Commission chair Dlamini-Zuma will visit Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia “to assess the situation first hand”, her spokesman said in a statement.

She arrived in the Ghanian capital Accra on Wednesday, her spokesman said, the base of the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), and is expected to travel on to Liberia on Thursday.

“We remain committed and in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in west Africa to put the Ebola epidemic under control,” Dlamini-Zuma said in the statement.

“We commend the ongoing continental and global efforts, but frankly, a lot more needs to be done to raise the needed resources considering the magnitude and rate of increase of the epidemic.”

She is accompanied by UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) chief Carlos Lopes, as well as the African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka.

The deadliest-ever outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 4,500 lives in west Africa, and experts warn the rate of infections could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

*Source AFP/Yahoo
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Dozens released Ebola-free from Sierra Leone site
October 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

By KABBA KARGBO and CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY*

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Dozens of Ebola survivors have been discharged from a treatment center near Sierra Leone’s capital and told they were virus-free, as police and residents clashed in other areas of the West African country.

Assistant inspector police general Karrow Kamara said Wednesday a curfew had been imposed in the eastern diamond-rich Kono district after protests [caption id="attachment_13219" align="alignleft" width="300"]In this grab from video provided by Associated Press Television on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, Ebola survivors Hawanatu Turay, left and an unidentified woman, display their certificates, after being given the all clear, at a treatment centre at Hastings, near Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dozens of Ebola survivors were discharged from a treatment center near Sierra Leone's capital on Wednesday and told they were virus-free. The third group released from the Hastings Treatment center, which included 45 patients, were also issued with health certificates they proudly held up. (AP Photo/Associated Press Television) In this grab from video provided by Associated Press Television on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, Ebola survivors Hawanatu Turay, left and an unidentified woman, display their certificates, after being given the all clear, at a treatment centre at Hastings, near Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dozens of Ebola survivors were discharged from a treatment center near Sierra Leone’s capital on Wednesday and told they were virus-free. The third group released from the Hastings Treatment center, which included 45 patients, were also issued with health certificates they proudly held up. (AP Photo/Associated Press Television)[/caption]

Tuesday. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds who had gathered with sticks and machetes in support of an opposition figure who wanted to stop health officials from taking blood samples from his mother. Kamara said he was traveling to the area to get more information.

At the Hastings Treatment center near Freetown on Tuesday, 45 patients were issued with health certificates claiming they were Ebola-free, and proudly held them up as they were released.

Hawanatu Turay, 14, said she was happy to be feeling healthy again. “I feel good because nothing hurts me anymore and I am feeling fine, I can do anything I want to do. I am happy, I can eat fine, my stomach hurts no more, my head aches no more and also my neck, nothing hurts and I have no more pains,” Turay said. She is among only 130 patients who have been treated and released from the facility, which is run by Sierra Leone doctors and nurses and started operating on Sept. 19.

Such releases are glimmers of hope in an outbreak that has infected some 9,900 people and killed more than 4,800 in the hardest hit countries in West Africa — Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Dr. Sankoh, a lieutenant from the Sierra Leone Army, said the release of the patients is a clear indication that the treatment center is helping.

“This is a clear manifestation that we cure a good number of Ebola patients in this center,” he said. He did not give another name. Many patients come in unstable, and some unconscious, he said.

“We are actually doing a good job here, we discharge, we treat patients and also do follow up treatment, not only treating them, but we also make sure that they have their full dose of combinations that they need,” he said. That follow up and treatment is why, he said, they recover in large numbers and quickly at the center.

[caption id="attachment_13220" align="alignright" width="300"]A child, center, stands next to a signboard reading 'Police order quarantined home unauthorised should keep off' as a family home is placed under quarantine due to the Ebola virus in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees and journalists, as well as West African travelers. The program will start Monday in six states that represent 70 percent of people arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff) A child, center, stands next to a signboard reading ‘Police order quarantined home unauthorised should keep off’ as a family home is placed under quarantine due to the Ebola virus in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees and journalists, as well as West African travelers. The program will start Monday in six states that represent 70 percent of people arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)[/caption]

“Some people just came in here about a week ago and they have been discharged today,” he said.

British International Development Secretary Justine Greening noted that training is key for health care workers who are risking their lives. “One of the worst aspects of what’s happened here in Sierra Leone is a breakdown of the health care system. We’ve seen health care workers really on the front line and also being many of the people who have lost their lives,” Greening said Tuesday while visiting a U.K.-funded Ebola treatment and training center. More than 400 health workers have contracted the disease in West Africa.

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia “to assess the situation first hand”, her spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.

She arrived in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Wednesday, the base of the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response, and is expected to travel on to Liberia on Thursday.

*Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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Ebola serum for Africa patients within weeks, says WHO
October 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

_78420013_76889093Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization.

Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015. The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people. Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Dr Kieny, WHO assistant director general for health system and innovation, said: “There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.

“The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.” It is still unclear how much will become available and whether it could meet demand. In other developments:
  • NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo – who contracted Ebola in West Africa – is declared free of the virus and will leave hospital in the US state of Nebraska
  • Riots break out in Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich Kono district after angry youths resisted efforts to “quarantine” a house where a 90-year-old woman suspected to have Ebola lived. The youths were said to be angry because there were no treatment centres in Kono, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana says. Police imposed a daytime curfew in the area
  • UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening visits Sierra Leone to assess the impact of the government’s $200m (£125m) aid package
  • The US Homeland Security Department says all visitors arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will undergo enhanced screening at one of five airports
  • The Dominican Republic joins a group of Caribbean countries that have banned visitors from the three West African nations
Serum 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 can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into serum – by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies – which can be used to treat other patients. *Source BBC]]>

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Ebola nurse William Pooley returns to Sierra Leone
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

_78383360_77957990William Pooley, the British nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering in West Africa, has returned to Sierra Leone to resume his work.

He said there was a “real emergency” in the country and he was “delighted” to be back on the front line. Mr Pooley will start work at a hospital in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, on Monday. He has previously spoken of the “horror and the misery” he witnessed in his first spell in the country. While in the UK, the 29-year-old had said he was “impatient” to return to his work in Africa and would travel as soon as he had a new passport. His old one was incinerated when he was evacuated. The nurse, from Eyke in Suffolk, was flown back to the UK by the RAF on 24 August and was taken to the UK’s special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He was treated during the early stages of the infection, before the onset of internal or external bleeding. Unlike many people in Africa he was given the experimental drug ZMapp, which seemed to lower levels of the virus in his body. He has since made a full recovery and has donated his blood for medical research. Mr Pooley said: “I would like to once again thank the team at the Royal Free Hospital and the RAF who provided me with such excellent treatment and support. “But the real emergency is in West Africa, and the teams out there need all the support we can give them – I am now looking forward to getting back out there and doing all I can to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as possible.” More than 4,500 people have died in the Ebola outbreak, which is the largest in history. Mr Pooley will work at the isolation unit at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he will train staff and set up new isolation units. He will work with a team from King’s Health Partners – a collaboration between King’s College London and three NHS trusts – which is operating in the country. Dr Oliver Johnson, programme director for the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, said: “It is fantastic that Will has chosen to join our small team here at Connaught Hospital. “The situation here in Freetown is getting worse by the day and so Will’s experience and commitment will be vital as we do everything we can to stem the flow of cases. “The best way of stopping Ebola spreading even further is to fight it at its source and I look forward to working with Will to do just that.” *Source BBC]]>

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Where's the empathy for Ebola's African victims?
October 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

John D. Sutter* The world’s response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy Two facts make the point clear: [caption id="attachment_13100" align="alignleft" width="300"]Ebola survivors prepare to leave a Doctors Without Borders treatment center after recovering from the virus in Paynesville, Liberia, on October 12. Ebola survivors prepare to leave a Doctors Without Borders treatment center after recovering from the virus in Paynesville, Liberia, on October 12.[/caption]

The United Nations has asked for $1 billion to fight the spread of the virus. As of Friday, it had collected only $100,000 — or 0.01%. An additional $20 million has been pledged but not received, according to CNN Money. “We need to turn pledges into action,” the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon told reporters. “We need more doctors, nurses, equipment, treatment centers.”

— Liberia, meanwhile, which is hardest hit by the virus,says it requires 2.4 million boxes of protective gloves — and 85,000 body bags, to be able to fight the virus in the next six months. Currently, it only has 18,000 boxes of gloves and less than 5,000 body bags.

Let that second number sink in.

Eight-five thousand body bags needed.

But what is actually-really-truly behind the lack of helpfulness on the part of the international community? If you listen to right-wing pundits in the United States, we should blame Obama — who they say is having his “Katrina moment.”

Those jabs are fueled more by upcoming midterm elections than reality. And they won’t likely be quieted by Obama’s announcement on Friday that he has appointed an “Ebola czar” to manage the U.S. response.

The true devastation, however, has been unfolding in West Africa for months. And it’s the subject of far less outrage in the United States.

A more rational and deep-seated critique of the international community’s relative inaction emerged in arecent BBC interview with Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary general, who is from Ghana.

“If the crisis had hit some other region,” he’s quoted as telling that news organization, “it probably would have been handled very differently.

“In fact when you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe.”

It’s hard not to agree that race and geography do play a role in the world’s callousness. They help explain why “some other region” — any other region, really — would get more help.

Science tells part of the story.

There’s evidence lighter skinned people have trouble “feeling” the pain of those with darker skin. Researchers at the University of Milano-Bicocca, in Italy, tested this in by showing a group of Caucasian people video clips of people of various races being pricked with a needle. They monitored the viewers to see how their bodies responded to the sight of another person being hurt. The white viewers reacted more strongly — or showed more physical empathy — when white people were hurt than Africans.

In another study, “researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites,” Slate writes.

Except for a handful of health workers, nearly all of Ebola’s 4,400 casualties have been black Africans — and these simmering biases are deeply troubling.

[caption id="attachment_13101" align="alignright" width="300"]Aid workers from the Liberian Medical Renaissance League stage an Ebola awareness event October 15 in Monrovia, Liberia. The group performs street dramas throughout Monrovia to educate the public on Ebola symptoms and how to handle people who are infected with the virus. Aid workers from the Liberian Medical Renaissance League stage an Ebola awareness event October 15 in Monrovia, Liberia. The group performs street dramas throughout Monrovia to educate the public on Ebola symptoms and how to handle people who are infected with the virus.[/caption]

“Ebola is now a stand-in for any combination of ‘African-ness’, ‘blackness’, ‘foreign-ness’ and ‘infestation’ — poised to ruin the perceived purity of Western borders and bodies,” Hannah Giorgiswrote for The Guardian.

There’s a long, ugly history of this sort of thing.

Consider the 1994 Rwanda genocide, or the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“In the case of AIDS, it took years for proper research funding to be put in place and it was only when so-called ‘innocent’ groups were involved (women and children, haemophiliac patients and straight men) that the media, the politicians and the scientific community and funding bodies took notice,” John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, wrote for The Independent.

The headline of his piece: “They’d find a cure if Ebola came to London.”

Maybe some blame should fall on geography, as well. Americans, in particular, know very little about Africa (just try this quiz on African geography from the Washington Post). The physical distance between Africa and North America or Europe — two global centers of financial and political power — also could lead people to feel emotionally distant from the crisis.

“I don’t know about racism, but I do know when (Ebola) was only in Africa, hardly anyone in the U.S. cared that it was killing thousands,” a friend wrote in response to a question I posed on Facebook. “But now that like four people have it in the U.S., it is all-out panic.”

Whatever the reason, a lack of empathy is clearly at play.

Too many people panic when Ebola hits Dallas but shrug at thegruesome reality in Monrovia. Too many worry that someone whomight have been in contact with an Ebola patient has boarded a cruise ship bound for Belize — but we don’t feel for Ebola’s child orphans.

I hope shining light on these realities can help change them.

I’ll leave you with a passage from an essay by Leslie Jamison, a woman who worked as a “medical actor,” meaning she faked illnesses for emotionally tone-deaf medical students. As she listened to the sometimes hard-headed students interrogate her about her made-up illnesses, she learned a thing or two about what it means to actually empathize with a person.

“Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us — a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain — it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves,” she wrote.

Take that as a challenge.

Pay attention. Extend yourself.

And demand world leaders do the same

*Source CNN

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Sierra Leone's John Kamara banished by Greek club over Ebola
October 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Nick Cavell*

_78357955_457060914Greek club PAS Lamia have asked Sierra Leone’s John Kamara not to train or play with the club for three weeks due to fears over the Ebola virus.

Kamara returned to Greece after playing for the Leone Stars in their Africa Cup of Nations ties in Cameroon.

Lamia told him the decision was on advice from the Greek health ministry.

“[The club told me] I shouldn’t be with the team for 15 to 21 days as I went to Africa to play and because of the Ebola virus,” Kamara told BBC Sport.

“They made it clear I should stay indoors or I should travel abroad to see my family and not go to training.”

Sierra Leone had to host their tie against Cameroon in Yaounde because they are banned from playing at home by the Confederation of African Football due the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country.

The move by second tier Lamia comes despite the fact there have been no reported cases of Ebola in Cameroon and Kamara has not been to Sierra Leone in more than a year.

“The last time I was in Sierra Leone was for the World Cup qualifiers against Tunisia and Cape Verde,” he added.

“[While we were in Cameroon] they checked our temperatures every morning and every evening.

“I have told the club I am ready to undergo any medical they want me to do – as far as I am concerned I don’t have the Ebola virus.

How the Ebola outbreak has affected African football

Sierra Leone has suspended all football matches in the county
Caf has placed bans on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone hosting any international football
Seychelles forfeited their Nations Cup qualifier rather than host Sierra Leone

“I don’t understand it but I have to respect their decision.”

The 26-year-old added he would have to think about his future with the club.

“I can’t say anything about my future right now because I have so many things to think about, I have to speak to my family and my agent about it before I consider what to do,” he said.

Kamara played in both Nations Cup qualifiers for Sierra Leone in Cameroon, the Leone Stars earned a goalless draw on Saturday before losing 2-0 four days later.

*BBC

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Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone revamps response team
October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced a major shake-up of the body in charge of fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country.

[caption id="attachment_13066" align="alignleft" width="624"]People are being kept in isolation at Ebola treatment centres in Sierra Leone People are being kept in isolation at Ebola treatment centres in Sierra Leone[/caption] He said his defence minister would head a new national response centre and report directly to him. The previous team was headed by the health minister. Mr Koroma said people were dying and quick decisions had to be taken. The latest Ebola outbreak has killed about 1,200 people in Sierra Leone, and more than 4,500 across West Africa. In the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – 9,191 people have been found to have the virus, which kills 70% of those infected, according to the latest WHO figures. Mr Koroma’s office said Sierra Leone’s new National Ebola Response Centre was replacing the previous body – the National Operations Centre – “with immediate effect”. The statement said the new centre would be headed by Defence Minister Paolo Conteh, and would have full powers to combat the disease and ensure a more effective use of aid. The latest crisis in West Africa is the worst-ever Ebola outbreak. The virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. It spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. International donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to UN agencies and aid organisations, following an appeal launched in September for $988m.

“I’ve lost five members of my family”

On Friday, a damning internal report emerged from the UN’s health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO). It found that the organisation had failed to respond in time to a “perfect storm”. The report seen by AP states: “Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall. A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.” It says that experts should have realised that traditional methods of containing infectious disease would not work in a region with porous borders and poor health systems. Issues highlighted by unnamed WHO sources who spoke to Bloomberg news agency include
  • Delays in WHO experts in the field sending reports to headquarters in Geneva
  • Bureaucratic hurdles preventing $500,000 (£311,000) reaching the response effort in Guinea
  • Virus contact tracers (tasked with identifying people who may have come into contact with sufferers) refusing to work out of concern they would not get paid
[caption id="attachment_13067" align="alignright" width="624"]A medical worker dons protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone - 16 October 2014 The World Health Organization is ramping up efforts to stop Ebola from spreading elsewhere in Africa A medical worker dons protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone – 16 October 2014
The World Health Organization is ramping up efforts to stop Ebola from spreading elsewhere in Africa[/caption] The WHO said the document seen by AP was incomplete and had not been checked. A full analysis of its actions would only be completed once the outbreak was under control, it added. The UN’s special envoy for Ebola, David Nabarro, told the BBC that plans were on course to provide 4,000 beds for Ebola patients by next month, compared with 300 at the end of August. “We are putting in place the foundations of a very powerful response,” he said, in response to criticism of the UN’s work.
How not to catch Ebola:
  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months
 
  • Protective Ebola suit

  • Surgical cap

    The cap forms part of a protective hood covering the head and neck. It offers medical workers an added layer of protection, ensuring that they cannot touch any part of their face whilst in the treatment centre.
  • Goggles

    Goggles, or eye visors, are used to provide cover to the eyes, protecting them from splashes. The goggles are sprayed with an anti-fogging solution before being worn.
  • Medical mask

    Covers the mouth to protect from sprays of blood or body fluids from patients. When wearing a respirator, the medical worker must tear this outer mask to allow the respirator through.
  • Respirator

    A respirator is worn to protect the wearer from a patient’s coughs. According to guidelines from the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the respirator should be put on second, right after donning the overalls.
  • Medical Scrubs

    A surgical scrub suit, durable hospital clothing that absorbs liquid and is easily cleaned, is worn as a baselayer underneath the overalls. It is normally tucked into rubber boots to ensure no skin is exposed.
  • Overalls

    The overalls are placed on top of the scrubs. These suits are similar to hazardous material (hazmat) suits worn in toxic environments. The team member supervising the process should check that the equipment is not damaged.
  • Double gloves

    A minimum two sets of gloves are required, covering the suit cuff. When putting on the gloves, care must be taken to ensure that no skin is exposed and that they are worn in such a way that any fluid on the sleeve will run off the suit and glove. Medical workers must change gloves between patients, performing thorough hand hygiene before donning a new pair. Heavy duty gloves are used whenever workers need to handle infectious waste.
  • Apron

    A waterproof apron is placed on top of the overalls as a final layer of protective clothing.
  • Boots

    Ebola health workers typically wear rubber boots, with the scrubs tucked into the footwear. If boots are unavailable, workers must wear closed, puncture and fluid-resistant shoes. *Source BBC
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Using Animation to Battle Ebola
October 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

An animation that dispels myths about how Ebola is spread and promotes prevention 141013umcUnited Methodist Communications collaborated with Chocolate Moose Media and iHeed to create an animation for West Africa that dispels myths about how Ebola is spread and promotes prevention. “Our goal is to provide education that leads to better understanding to prevent infections,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “Ebola gains foothold in poor communities where mistrust, resistance to proper care and lack of understanding of the virus and is widespread. The church’s advantage lies in its network of trusted leaders who live in the affected regions.” United Methodist Communications (http://www.umcom.org), the global communications agency of The United Methodist Church, is using several approaches, including providing text messages to clergy in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Commentaries by trusted leaders encourage cooperation with health programs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LABKWHo5PIs The agency provided partial funding for Chocolate Moose Media (http://www.chocmoose.com) to create the video. The executive producer is iHeed (http://www.iheed.org), a mobile-health-education innovator. “I have created what I hope will be a compelling video to prevent the spread of Ebola,” said Chocolate Moose Media founder and award-winning director Firdaus Kharas. “My approach is to combine animation with non-coercive persuasion by having Africans speak to their own broader family.” Accessed through download for local playback, all partners will distribute the video to reach as many as possible. Distribution channels include international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and churches and through social media using #Ebolavideo. “Through a combination of weak health infrastructure, inconsistent levels of education and unpreparedness, this epidemic has become a global threat,” said Dr. Kunal D. Patel, medical director of iHeed. “Digital media can fill the gaps. In combination with technologies such as mobile phones, cinemas, projectors and tablets, animated information can help.” The United Methodist Church is responding in a number of other ways in a joint effort by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, West African United Methodist church leaders and regional health boards, denominational health facilities, and others. Visit http://www.umc.org/ebola. According to the World Health Organization, 7,470 cases of Ebola had been reported as of Oct. 3 (http://goo.gl/ni3P1M), with 3,431 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads through person-to-person transmission. Contact with the body of a deceased person can also play a role in transmission. *Shared by APO]]>

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