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Platini, African confederation in spat over Ebola
October 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

By By GERALD IMRAY*

UEFA's Platini and CAF's Issa Hayatou

UEFA’s Platini and CAF’s Issa Hayatou

UEFA President Michel Platini became involved in a spat with the Confederation of African Football over Ebola on Wednesday, with the Frenchman demanding an apology from CAF for getting comments he made in a television interview wrong and “insulting” him.

The row revolves around a weekend interview where Platini was asked about next year’s troubled African Cup of Nations and if the tournament should still be held in January and February despite the threat from the West African Ebola outbreak.

Morocco, the host nation, says it wants it postponed because of Ebola. CAF, the African Cup organizer, has insisted it should go ahead or it will find another country.

CAF issued a statement late Tuesday saying the European football head had interfered in its affairs by questioning in the interview its decision to go ahead with the African Cup.

In a strongly-worded letter to CAF President Issa Hayatou on Wednesday, Platini denied that and provided a transcript of the interview, where he said Morocco’s Ebola concerns were valid but repeatedly stressed it was CAF’s decision when to hold the cup.

“I now expect an immediate reaction of the statement in question, as well as a formal apology from the author of that statement,” Platini wrote in his letter to Hayatou. “Otherwise, I will react accordingly.”

Platini said CAF’s criticism of him was “unfair, unwarranted and even insulting” and was based on “inaccurate information.”

CAF’s statement claiming its “sovereignty” was threatened by Platini rather underlines the pressure the African body is under within its own continent to postpone next year’s Cup of Nations while Ebola still rages.

CAF used some of its statement on Platini to justify why Africa’s top football tournament could still go ahead.

Morocco’s government has insisted it will not host it on the current dates of Jan. 17-Feb. 8 because of the deadly virus, which has killed over 4,500 people in West Africa, almost all in the three worst-affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The outbreak is not yet contained.

Scrambling to find a backup plan, CAF has approached seven countries to see if they would be willing to replace Morocco.

However, no one may want the tournament. At least two of those countries have said they are unwilling, partly because of Ebola and the dangers associated with allowing large numbers of fans and others to travel from West Africa for the matches. South Africa’s sports ministry said last week the country would not be willing to host and Sudan ruled itself out on Wednesday.

“Hosting the African Cup of Nations means that huge numbers of national teams and their fans from African countries will enter our country and stay for the whole championship,” said Abdullah Al Fadel, an official with Sudan’s health ministry, adding there was a “danger of spreading the virus.”

*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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Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission
October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State poses with survivors of the Ebola virus Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State poses with survivors of the Ebola virus[/caption] This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail. Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case and eager to improve their preparedness plans. Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well. The complete story also illustrates how Nigeria has come so close to the successful interruption of wild poliovirus transmission from its vast and densely-populated territory. As sometimes fortunately happens in public health, one success breeds others when lessons and best practices are collected and applied. Earlier this year, WHO confirmed that Nigeria had eradicated guinea-worm disease – another spectacular success story. When the eradication initiative was launched, Nigeria was the epicentre of this disease, with more than 650 000 cases reported each year. A shocked public health community – worldwide When laboratory confirmation of the country’s first Ebola case, in Lagos, was announced on 23 July, the news rocked public health communities all around the world. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and its newest economic powerhouse. For a disease outbreak, it is also a powder keg. The number of people living in Lagos – around 21 million – is almost as large as the populations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone combined. Lagos, Africa’s largest city, is also characterized by a large population living in crowded and unsanitary conditions in many slums. Thousands of people move in and out of Lagos every day, constantly looking for work or markets for their products in a busy metropolis with frequent gridlocks of vehicle traffic. “How can contact tracing be done under such conditions?” This was the main concern raised at the beginning, shortly after the first confirmed case was announced. As the United States Consul General in Nigeria, Jeffrey Hawkins, said at the time, “The last thing anyone in the world wants to hear is the 2 words, ‘Ebola’ and ‘Lagos’ in the same sentence. ” As he noted, that single juxtaposition conjured up images of an “apocalyptic urban outbreak”. That never happened. With assistance from WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others, government health officials reached 100% of known contacts in Lagos and 99.8% at the second outbreak site, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub. Federal and State governments in Nigeria provided ample financial and material resources, as well as well-trained and experienced national staff. Isolation wards were immediately constructed, as were designated Ebola treatment facilities, though more slowly. Vehicles and mobile phones, with specially adapted programmes, were made available to aid real-time reporting as the investigations moved forward. Unlike the situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, all identified contacts were physically monitored on a daily basis for 21 days. The few contacts who attempted to escape the monitoring system were all diligently tracked, using special intervention teams, and returned to medical observation to complete the requisite monitoring period of 21 days.   The “index” case: how it all started The Ebola virus entered Lagos on 20 July via an infected Liberian air traveller, who died 5 days later. At the departure airport, he was visibly very ill, lying on the floor of the waiting room while awaiting the flight. He vomited during the flight, on arrival and, yet again, in the private car that drove him to a private hospital. The protocol officer who escorted him later died of Ebola. At the hospital, he told staff that he had malaria and denied any contact with an Ebola patient. As was learned later, his sister was a confirmed case who had died from the disease in Liberia. The traveller visited his sister while in hospital and attended her traditional funeral and burial ceremony. As malaria is not transmitted from person to person, no staff at the hospital took protective precautions. Over the coming days, 9 doctors and nurses became infected and 4 of them died. The second outbreak site: Port Harcourt The virus entered the country’s oil hub, Port Harcourt, on 1 August, when a close contact of the index case flew there seeking care from a private physician. That doctor developed symptoms on 10 August and died of Ebola on 23 August. Laboratory tests confirmed the city’s first case on 27 August. An investigation undertaken by a team of epidemiologists from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme and the State Ministry of Health, assisted by WHO, revealed an alarming number of high-risk and very high-risk exposures for hundreds of people. Again, all the ingredients for an explosion of new cases were in place. Dr Rui Vaz, the head of WHO’s country office in Nigeria, visited Rivers State (where Port Harcourt is located) to assess the situation there. He informed the State’s Governor of the potentially explosive situation and made his advice crystal clear: “All required resources must be immediately mobilized to stop this outbreak.” Fortunately, the State’s Governor heeded WHO’s advice and that “explosive situation did not happen. [caption id="attachment_13168" align="alignright" width="370"]Lagos State Nigerian Ebola survivor Doctor Ada Igonoh Lagos State Nigerian Ebola survivor Doctor Ada Igonoh[/caption] Today, exactly 42 days (twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease) after the country’s last infectious contact with a confirmed or probable case occurred, the chains of transmission have been broken. The virus is gone – for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated. What accounts for this great news? To a large extent, the answer is straightforward: the country’s strong leadership and effective coordination of the response. The Nigerian response to the outbreak was greatly aided by the rapid utilization of a national public institution (NCDC) and the prompt establishment of an Emergency Operations Centre, supported by the Disease Prevention and Control Cluster within the WHO country office. Another key asset was the country’s first-rate virology laboratory affiliated with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. That laboratory was staffed and equipped to quickly and reliably diagnose a case of Ebola virus disease, which ensured that containment measures could begin with the shortest possible delay. In addition, high-quality contact tracing by experienced epidemiologists expedited the early detection of cases and their rapid movement to an isolation ward, thereby greatly diminishing opportunities for further transmission. How a highly contagious virus was stopped dead in its tracks Dr Rui Vaz and the WHO country team of epidemiologists, clinicians, logisticians and administrators have identified a number of specific lessons that may be useful for other countries facing their first imported Ebola case or preparing for one. They have also carefully documented a large number of “best practices” for containing an Ebola outbreak quickly. The most critical factor is leadership and engagement from the head of state and the Minister of Health. Generous allocation of government funds and their quick disbursement helped as well. Partnership with the private sector was yet another asset that brought in substantial resources to help scale up control measures that would eventually stop the Ebola virus dead in its tracks. Health and government officials fully appreciated the importance of communication with the general public. They rallied communities to support containment measures. House-to-house information campaigns and messages on local radio stations, in local dialects, were used to explain the level of risk, effective personal preventive measures and the actions being taken for control. On his part, the President reassured the country’s vast and diversified population through appearances on nationally televised newscasts. The full range of media opportunities was exploited – from social media to televised facts about the disease delivered by well-known “Nollywood” movie stars. Polio strategies “repurposed” for Ebola control For some time now, with dedicated and enthusiastic support from President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria has been running one of the world’s most innovative polio eradication campaigns, using the very latest satellite-based cutting-edge GPS technologies to ensure that no child misses out on polio vaccination. The country, which passed through the high-transmission season with only 1 single case of polio detected by a finely-tuned and sensitive surveillance system, is on track to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission from its borders before the end of this year. When the first Ebola case was confirmed in July, health officials immediately repurposed polio technologies and infrastructures to conduct Ebola case-finding and contact-tracing. The use of cutting-edge technologies, developed with guidance from the WHO polio programme, put GPS systems to work as support for real-time contact tracing and daily mapping of links between identified chains of transmission. This is a good public health story with an unusual twist at the end. As part of preparedness for an imported case, several advanced countries with good health systems are now studying technologies “made in Nigeria”, with WHO support, to improve their own contact tracing capacities. The story has another very clear message, as noted by Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General. “If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this – that is, make significant progress towards interrupting polio transmission, eradicate guinea-worm disease and contain Ebola, all at the same time – any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases.” World-class epidemiological detective work would eventually link every single one of the country’s 19 confirmed cases back to direct or indirect contact with that 20 July air traveller from Liberia. In another strategy, traditional, religious and community leaders were engaged early on and played a critical role in sensitizing the public. Like many others, the strategy drew on successful experiences in the polio programme. The awareness campaigns that worked so well to create public acceptance of polio immunization were likewise repurposed to encourage early reporting of symptoms, backed by the message that early detection and supportive care greatly increase an Ebola patient’s prospects of survival. All of these efforts were supported by social mobilization experts from UNICEF, CDC and Médecins sans Frontières, while the staff from the WHO Nigeria office, the Regional Office for Africa and headquarters boosted outbreak investigation, risk assessment, contact tracing and clinical care. In the end, Nigeria confirmed a total of 19 cases, of whom 7 died and 12 survived, giving the country an enviable case fatality rate of 40% – much lower than the 70% and higher seen elsewhere. Finally, to help maintain the confidence of citizens and foreign companies and investors alike, the government undertook the screening of all arriving and departing travellers by air and by sea in Lagos and Rivers State. The average number of travellers screened each day rose to more than 16 000. Vigilance remains high Nigerian government and health officials, including staff in the WHO country office, are well aware that the country will remain vulnerable to another imported case as long as intense transmission continues in other parts of West Africa. The surveillance system remains on guard, at a level of high alert. Moreover, the country’s success, including its low fatality rate, has created another problem that calls for a high level of alert. Many desperate people in heavily affected countries believe that Nigeria must have some especially good – maybe even “magical” – treatments to offer. WHO’s Dr Vaz and others see a real risk that patients and their families from elsewhere will come to Nigeria in their quest for first-rate, live-saving care. Based on the experience gained from the response in the 2 affected States, the national preparedness and response plan has also been revised and refined. This strengthened response plan further boosts confidence that Nigeria’s well-oiled machinery has a good chance of working miracles again should another traveller – by land, air or sea – carry the Ebola virus across its borders again. *APO/WHO]]>

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Many Liberian Doctors—Including President’s Son—Are Staying Away
October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

As President of Ebola-Ravaged Country Pleads for Foreign Helpers, Her Physician Son Sends Aid from U.S.   By PATRICK MCGROARTY* [caption id="attachment_13137" align="alignleft" width="553"]Dr. J. Soka Moses, left, in the Ebola treatment unit he runs at JFK hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Dr. Moses is the Ebola unit's only doctor. Patrick McGroarty for The Wall Street Journal Dr. J. Soka Moses, left, in the Ebola treatment unit he runs at JFK hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Dr. Moses is the Ebola unit’s only doctor. Patrick McGroarty for The Wall Street Journal[/caption] MONROVIA, Liberia—President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Sunday said “the whole world has a stake” in preventing an unfolding catastrophe in Liberia, calling on nations to provide more medical experts and supplies to confront the exploding Ebola epidemic. But illustrating the difficulties of heeding that call, her own son, a physician, has stayed in the U.S., saying he can do more for his country there than at home. “It is the duty of all of us as global citizens to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves,” Mrs. Sirleaf said. In line with that message, the president in late August fired state officials who refused to come home from abroad to help Liberia battle Ebola. At that time, however, her son, Dr. James Adama Sirleaf, was returning to his family in Georgia, after deciding to pull his medical training group out of his homeland because of mounting risks to doctors there. He is hardly alone. Officials and physicians here say far more Liberian doctors are in the U.S. and other countries than in the country of their birth, and that their absence is complicating efforts to curb what has become a global health crisis. Even before Ebola, there were only about 170 Liberian doctors in the country, and colleagues say many of them weren’t actively practicing. At least four of them have since died of the virus. That shortage has prompted repeated pleas from the Liberian government for more foreign doctors to join the fight. Foreign governments, including the U.S., have begun to respond, in part to prevent a tide of new Ebola infections from entering their own countries. The U.S. has sent 400 of the up to 4,000 military personnel it will deploy to build 17 Ebola treatment units, the first of which is scheduled to open this month. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 40 staff members on the ground. Doctors Without Borders, a nonprofit at the forefront of the response, has more than 100 foreign staff members working in Liberia. Dr. Sirleaf runs the emergency room at a hospital in Albany, Ga. He heads an effort to ship protective gear to medical workers in Liberia, but hasn’t returned himself since a 10-day trip in August as the virus was spreading out of control. “The symbolism of me going there and potentially getting Ebola when I have a nine- and a seven-year-old at home isn’t worth it just to appease people,” said Dr. Sirleaf. “I’ve made a commitment not to live in Liberia for many reasons, and I think my contribution means more.” Dr. Sirleaf’s decision speaks to the challenge of not only containing this epidemic but also of preventing the next one. Although Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have sent scores of doctors abroad over the years, they depend on foreign doctors and public health experts to halt Ebola’s spread. When this epidemic subsides, most of that foreign know-how will leave the region. Liberian doctors here say they need to take charge of improving their country’s health-care system. “We Liberians need to be at the front lines to help ourselves,” said J. Soka Moses, the only doctor at an Ebola treatment unit inside a disused cholera clinic on the edge of Monrovia’s John F. Kennedy Medical Center. “If we aren’t, our country will be wiped away.” Dr. Moses studied under physicians that Dr. Sirleaf sent to Liberia a few years ago, and he believes the president’s son should be doing more now. “He should have stayed longer,” he said. In its latest tally, the World Health Organization said Friday that Ebola has killed almost 2,500 people in Liberia—more than half the global death toll so far. The WHO has warned that Ebola could be infecting 10,000 people a week by December if it spreads into larger West African nations, such as Ivory Coast. OG-AC791_EbolaR_G_20141013180103Some Liberian doctors are making plans to assist in the region. Abdullah Kiatamba, a leader in the 30,000-strong Liberian community in Minnesota, said dozens of doctors and nurses want to set up a rotation to spend time in the country of their birth, though their plans aren’t set yet. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionstarted a three-day training course in Alabama for health professionals who plan to work in the region with a nonprofit or international organization. Liberia’s frayed health-care system is making it tougher to slow Ebola’s advance. At Dr. Moses’ Ebola treatment unit at JFK hospital this week, workers pushed a cardboard box of protective gear across a wet floor near a ward of infected patients. “Open this up and throw away all the gowns on the outside! They’re ruined!” he shouted. Until the 1970s, Liberia was a middle-income country with 3,000 medical doctors. Aspiring physicians from across West Africa trained at JFK, the country’s top hospital. But a coup in 1980 set off two decades of civil war that tore Liberia and its health infrastructure apart. Dr. Sirleaf, now 51 years old, had started his studies a few years earlier at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He then earned a medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, got married, had four children and worked for many years in the emergency room at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut. In 2005, he returned to Liberia for the first time in two decades to join his mother on the campaign that led to her election later that year. He was shocked at the state of the country’s public health care. “We needed clinicians,” he said. “We needed everything.” In 2007, Dr. Sirleaf founded Heartt Foundation—an acronym for Health Education and Relief Through Training—to recruit medical specialists and residents to spend a month practicing in Liberia and teach at its only medical school. Heartt sent 70 doctors in 2009 alone to Liberia to train students, including Dr. Moses. But Heartt’s last team of four doctors left Liberia in March, just as cases of Ebola were surging. JFK hospital, where Heartt physicians worked, appeared ill-prepared for the coming epidemic, Dr. Sirleaf said. The risk to doctors and trainees, who hadn’t confronted Ebola before, seemed unacceptably high, he said. “We thought people should leave, finish up what they were doing and come home,” Dr. Sirleaf said. WO-AU153_NOREBO_G_20141020140906 (1)A few months later, the head of JFK’s emergency room and the chief of its internal medicine department were among the first Liberian medical workers to die from Ebola. Liberians dubbed JFK hospital “Just For Killing” for the carnage Ebola was wreaking within. Dr. Sirleaf retooled Heartt to help in other ways. He came to Liberia in August to set up a protocol for identifying suspected Ebola cases and treating patients without touching them. In collaboration with AmeriCares, a Connecticut-based emergency relief group, Heartt shipped crates of protective gloves, goggles and gowns to doctors in Liberia. The largest shipment so far, a plane carrying more than 60,000 pounds of gear, arrived last month. But Heartt’s flow of doctors has stopped. “I’ve lost friends to Ebola,” he said. “I can’t see the wisdom in sending unspecialized American volunteers to face that risk.” Mrs. Sirleaf’s spokesman, Jerolimnek Piah, praised the Heartt and AmeriCares effort. He said Pres. Sirleaf was traveling and unavailable for comment on whether she wanted her son to return to Liberia to join other doctors battling Ebola. “We want them to come and help,” said Billy C. Johnson, JFK Medical Center’s chief medical officer. “But how can you ask someone to jump into a fire? You can’t guarantee their safety.” *Source WSJ]]>

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AfDB President receives the Development Champion Award and dedicates it to health workers fighting Ebola in West Africa
October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

prix-president (1)“The Forum has given the Development Champion Award to Donald Kaberuka in recognition of his commitment to Africa as head of the African Development Bank.” These words were a key moment in the Gala Evening that marked the conclusion of the Rebranding Africa Forum, held on October 18 in Brussels, Belgium. Kaberuka accepted the award to a standing ovation from the audience, dedicating it to his staff at the African Development Bank (AfDB) and to health workers fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. “I would like to dedicate this award to all my colleagues, to whom I intend to pass on the message of this Forum, and of its founder, Thierry Hot, Managing Director of Notre Afrik, in particular. I would also like to pay tribute to the unsung heroes working tirelessly to promote development across Africa. The men and women involved in conducting campaigns, working on projects and delivering workshops are making a much greater contribution to Africa than I ever could. I am simply a figurehead with a recognised name. “Finally, I would like to dedicate this award to the brave doctors and nurses fighting the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who are placing themselves in harm’s way to help others. It is these people who are truly deserving of this award,” Kaberuka said. A total of five awards were presented at the Forum. Evans Wadongo (Kenya), an IT engineer, won the Innovation Award; Marième Jamme (Senegal), leader of the Senegalese IT hub Jjiguène Hub Tech, took home the Empowering Women Award; Constant Nemalé (Cameroon), President of Africa 24, a pan-African TV channel, was given the Media Leadership Award; and Gervais Koffi Djondo (Togo), Honorary President of Ecobank, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution throughout his career. *AFDB]]>

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Ebola: Liberia’s President writes moving letter to the world
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

download (1)Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written a heartfelt letter to the world over the Ebola crisis that hit her country. In the letter which was read over the radio and transmitted worldwide, she likened the Ebola epidermic to the civil war her country faced 11 years ago which killed a lot of Liberians, crumbled their economy and vital institutions.The president called on the international community to stop all theoretical explanations on the Ebola crisis and act fast to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Dear World In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill. We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments… There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright.Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – 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 virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster.But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world.The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away.This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need.From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed. Yours sincerely, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf *Source independent.co.ug]]>

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Congo lends a hand to fight Ebola, urges African solidarity
October 20, 2014 | 2 Comments

By Aaron Ross*

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo plans to train more than 1,000 volunteers to help fight an Ebola epidemic raging across West Africa, even as it battles the last traces of an outbreak at home.

[caption id="attachment_13123" align="alignleft" width="622"]Congolese Health Minister Felix Kabange launching a health campaign Congolese Health Minister Felix Kabange launching a health campaign[/caption]

Having endured six previous outbreaks of the deadly virus in 40 years, Congolese officials say they are eager to share their expertise with countries suffering from the worst epidemic in history, which has already killed more than 4,500 people.

Congo’s Health Minister Felix Kabange said he hoped to inspire “African solidarity” in the Ebola fight and invited other countries to send volunteers to new training centers in the capital Kinshasa.

The World Health Organization has criticized African countries for closing borders to Ebola countries, saying this has worsened their suffering by cutting off supplies. “We have seen how the international community mobilized by deploying the means to intervene in West Africa. But Congo said, Africa has to mobilize,” Kabange told Reuters. “We have made here what we call African solidarity in action,” he said. An initial workshop, run in collaboration with the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF, the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University, began this week to prepare 56 public health experts to train other volunteers who may ultimately be sent to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The program aims to teach some 1,057 volunteers — all of them health professionals — although some could stay behind to contain Ebola locally. A recruitment drive has already begun in Kinshasa to assemble an initial pool of 600 volunteers to start training at the end of the month, according to Susie Villeneuve, a senior health specialist for UNICEF.

Three teams of 30 could be ready for deployment to West Africa by as early as mid-November, she said.

“There is a capacity that exists in this country for fighting this illness,” said Barbara Bentein, UNICEF representative in Congo.

Congo already sent a five-man medical team to Liberia in August to help support the country’s health workers who have been badly hit by the virus.

BUILDING TRUST Experts say that local suspicions of healthworkers has expedited the transmission of West Africa’s first Ebola outbreak, which began in the forests of Guinea last December and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Unlike past outbreaks in Congo, the West Africa epidemic quickly spread to densely populated urban centers, prompting governments to apply controversial emergency measures such as community quarantine in Liberia and a lockdown in Sierra Leone. Kabange said Congo had succeeded in containing the country’s past outbreaks through building trust with affected communities by working closely with local political and traditional leaders. “We say everyday that as long as the community does not take charge of itself, does not participate itself in the fight against Ebola, Ebola won’t be stopped,” the minister said. The deadly hemorrhagic fever was first detected in the dense tropical forests of Congo in 1976. Scientists named the illness after the nearby river Ebola.

The latest outbreak in Congo was thought to have started in August in the remote northern Equateur province after a hunter brought home an infected bush animal carcass. Since then, 49 people have died in the province among 69 cases.

But there has been a two-week lull in new confirmed cases, with the last one reported on Oct. 4. The outbreak could be declared over by the health ministry by mid-November if no additional cases are confirmed.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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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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MISSING IN ACTION: WHERE ARE AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE EBOLA FIGHT?
October 19, 2014 | 2 Comments

Jerome Almon Jerome Almon[/caption] NOTHING. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates $50 million, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen $20 million, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg $25 million, African American sports stars, celebrities, leaders- NOTHING. These are the amounts that have been donated to the Ebola fight by prominent Americans. This is sad but true, and an all too familiar refrain: White Americans such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt give more money to Black causes than Blacks. The Blacks that African Americans tend to follow are celebrity vultures, taking billions out of the community and putting nothing back into it. Harry Belafonte sparked a debate about people in position to effect change doing very little. In other words they are social and political Bernie Madoff’s that are running a cultural Ponzi scheme on African Americans. They are con-men of the highest order, and the worst part of it is although we as Blacks know this, we still patronize these musical charlatans at our own demise. Imagine what that $150 million in mostly Black dollars would have done for worthy African causes in the US and on the Continent…just imagine it.   An examination of the richest African Americans reveals that the over whelming majority are in the sports and entertainment industries, where as the majority of African billionaires, American billionaires, and global billionaires are mostly involved in tech and base business fields However, I do not let the Black masses off the hook at all. As I frequently say about the Black American community, “Aint no victims here-just volunteers.” The entire Ebola epidemic could have been stopped by African Americans donating 1% of the $11 billion we donate to charity annually, and we could turn Africa into a gleaming, self-sufficient, economic juggernaut with the $1.1 trillion we spend annually on absolutely NOTHING. As several news outlets pointed out in recent articles an emergency center built by Bill Gates helped Nigeria to quickly suppress the Ebola outbreak in the country-limiting number of cases to less than 20. African Americans have the ability to finance such a center in every African country for less than what we spend every 2 days in America. So the trillion dollar question is why don’t we put that $1.1 trillion to maximum use for Africa and African Americans? The answer is quite simple-LEADERSHIP. African Americans are and have been betting on the wrong people with the wrong plans. What we are doing is the EXACT same thing that the people who put their money with Bernie Madoff instead of Warren Buffett did. We are the people that sank money into the Smith-Corona typewriter company up until 2005, instead of Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Google…yet in both cases we expect stock and a check from Warren Buffett and tech companies. I assure you this will not happen. Having  self-appointed leaders screaming racism in the midst of the current Ebola epidemic, is like a firemen coming to your house when it is burning to the ground with your family in it-and does everything but put out the fire. Words will not put out a fire, fireman with a fire truck will. We need more fireman (doctors, engineers, scientist, business people, entrepreneurs) not more talk. We must permanently shed this mentality and the “leaders” that perpetuate it for their own gain. These jack leg preachers are the same people that run $50 million mega churches in the WORST ghettos in America surrounded by $2 prostitutes and drug addicts and dealers that you can imagine.  And these exploitive pied pipers drive not Cadillacs, but $350,000 Bentley’s…all paid for by a flock who cannot even keep the water running. The same is true for some athletes who are billionaires because of the Black American masses, and yet have never supported any Black causes, or committed a dollar to the Ebola fight that is getting global attention now. We have had   Athletes who are supported by the African community worldwide, and make $100 million, $200 million, $500 million in a short period of time, and end up bankrupt, having never donated any significant amount or any amount to improve the lives of the people that made them incredibly wealthy. Black Americans are an exact mirror of Black athletes when it comes to economics-we waste money on NOTHING and then complain about what we don’t have in the community. In other words, we buy what we want, and beg for what we need. You can go to the worst ghetto in America, and I guarantee you that you will find 10 to 20 pairs of $200-$300 Air Jordan’s in every Black kid’s room. And this visual, as simple as it is, illustrates the basic reason as to why African Americans live like the poorest of the poor although we are the richest of the rich . We have our priorities “back to front” as Australian reporter Paul Toohey wrote in an interview with me in Australia’s largest newspaper called “Motown’s Road To Ruin” . Toohey said what Bill Cosby said in his straight forward assessment of the state of Black America in his critique of our community and our priorities in a brilliant speech on blaming others for our REFUSAL to do the basics. We as African Americans expect, and in fact DEMAND that we get the same respect and results that the Chinese, Indians, Europeans, White Americans, and Canadians get although we behave exactly OPPOSITE as these groups do economically. All communities reflect their leadership, and unfortunately Black Americans reflect those self-appointed leaders that are really out to take advantage of an economically uneducated populace for their own petty gain. We should heed the words of educator Geoffrey Canada and put our money where it does us the most good and review the prophetic book by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Where Do We Go from Here: Community or Chaos.”  We have to go by the actions of those seeking to lead us, not by their words or we will continue to end up with NOTHING. We need to take a look back at our engagement with Africa. It has to go beyond social issues, it has to go beyond church related networks. African Americans need to do a little more to elevate their level of engagement with the continent. For these we may borrow a leaf from the way the Latino community engages with Latin America, Chinese Americans with China, Indian Americans and India, and White Americans and Europe. And talking about relations, we as African Americans should not be delusional that engaging with Africa is about giving to them. No, times have changed, it is about partnership, and there are economic opportunities in the continent as well that could be of great interest to African American Entrepreneurs. By working in partnership with Africa, we will also be helping ourselves considering that we live in a global world and it is no longer a case of their world vs. our world. What happens in one part of the world has I must address the organizations and groups that have equally done NOTHING to aid in the Ebola fight. At the top of my list is the National Medical Association (NMA), which is a Black organization for medical doctors in America. Although they have been notified of the efforts to get African Americans on board to help end the Ebola crisis, they have not said one word, and have done NOTHING to help. This is insulting coming from Black medical professionals.  I proposed to that the organization both join the fight, and address the proposal of my organization that $1 billion of the $11 billion African Americans donate to charity go to full scholarship and student loan debt relief for those in the medical, engineering, and hard sciences fields.  What did I hear NOTHING. If this was proposed in the White American, Chinese, Indian-any other community, EVERYTHING would have stopped to address the opportunity and gain this massive amount of revenue. At the end of the day this is the difference between African Americans and all other members of the African diaspora and all other ethnic groups-when it comes to money and economics Blacks in America are completely illogical. For too many of us economics is like the cross to Dracula.  We think that successful communities are successful due to some great advantage over Blacks, when the truth is other ethnic groups understand as a basic fact that EVERYTHING cost money-education, infrastructure, political campaigns, good city services, EVERYTHING…we do not accept this basic fact and it is killing us-LITERALLY. This is the simple reason we end up with NOTHING more times than not, we refuse to accept this reality that any 12 year old anywhere else in the world does accept. In closing, I would like to get back to the Ebola crisis. African Americans need to know that the people suffering and dying in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are African Americans. Sierra Leone and Liberia are populated by Black Americans that returned to the country in the 1700’s and 1800’s respectively. One of the most promising vaccines against Ebola was developed by researchers from Iowa State University which is where Black America’s most famous scientist George Washington Carver graduated-his work having brought great amounts of revenue to the university and America as a whole. John Garang, African leader who led the liberation campaign that created Africa’s latest nation South Sudan, attended the same Iowa State University (South Sudan was one of the first nations to have an Ebola outbreak in 1976). So at the end of the day, it is African Americans, dying of Ebola as much as it is Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, and Guineans PERIOD. We have every incentive and duty to aid as much as possible, but also for self-survival. Certain diseases tend to be affect certain ethnic groups more than others due to evolution in a particular environment. Meaning, there are diseases that Europeans, Chinese, etc. more than they do other groups.  In this case Ebola is a tropical virus that history has shown us tends to affect African American more than they do other Americans. We warned of this looming disaster in 2013, and had we been listened to, there would be no Ebola epidemic in West Africa or America -Ebola infected nurse Amber Vinson is African American. So we can save our people and ourselves or we can do wait on others to do it for us, and we will end up with not even our lives, we will end up with NOTHING. The expectation should not be for everyone to what Bill Gates and Mak Zuckerberg have done,as African Americans, we just cannot remain silent and indifferent . *Jerome Almon is a Detroit Based Businessman. Visit The  power of one trillion  for more information      ]]>

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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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Ebola neglected because it started in Africa: ex-UN head Annan
October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan attends a peace mediator conference at Loerenskog, Norway on June 18, 2014 (AFP Photo/Berit Roald) Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan attends a peace mediator conference at Loerenskog, Norway on June 18, 2014 (AFP Photo/Berit Roald)[/caption] London (AFP) – Wealthy countries were slow to tackle the Ebola epidemic as it began in Africa, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said in tough criticism of the response to the crisis on Thursday.

“I am bitterly disappointed by the response… I am disappointed in the international community for not moving faster,” Annan told the flagship BBC programme Newsnight.

“If the crisis had hit some other region 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.”

The Ghanaian diplomat, who led the United Nations for a decade until 2006, said it should have been clear that the spread of the virus from its epicentre in western Africa to countries overseas was only a matter of time.

It has since been transmitted to a nurse in Spain and two nurses in the United States who were treating patients who had contracted the disease in Africa. “I point the finger of blame at the governments with capacity… I think there’s enough blame to go around,” Annan said. “The African countries in the region could have done a bit more they could have asked for help much faster and the international community could have organised ourselves in a much better way to offer assistance.” “We didn’t need to take months to do what we are doing today.” Annan defended the World Health Organization, which has been criticised for not responding quickly enough to the worst ever epidemic of the disease, which began in Guinea before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMpdRM1h-tQ The Nobel peace prize laureate said that the WHO, which predicts that the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week by December, was aware of the risk of the disease but relied on governments to give them the resources to act.

“Countries are saturated with demands and they are not always able to prioritise as effectively as they should. I think we took our eyes off the ball,” Annan said.

The WHO on Thursday said it was ramping up efforts to help 15 African countries stop the spread of the virus, as Europe prepares to coordinate screening of passengers from affected countries.

The outbreak has killed 4,493 people from a total of 8,997 cases as of Sunday, according to WHO.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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