Ebola Could Become The Biggest Humanitarian Disaster In A Generation

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Door-to-door searches during a three-day curfew in Sierra identified more than 350 suspected new cases of Ebola, according to a U.S. diplomat, as the American public health institute the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has been heavily involved in the emergency response. The United Nations has warned that the Ebola infections will treble to 20,000 by November if efforts to tackle the outbreak are not stepped up. Over the past six months, an Ebola outbreak has affected five countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone).  The current outbreak is unprecedented in scale and geographical reach: the present West Africa outbreak has a higher caseload than all other previous Ebola crises combined. 

Scientists have warned that swift action is needed to curb the exponential climb in the Ebola outbreak. That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Centre (CCC) hosted an urgent conference call on 26 September to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The call was geared for officials from donor companies, corporate foundations, local chambers of commerce, humanitarian aid organisations and the media. It clearly outlined ways that the U.S. business community can help, as companies are mobilising their expertise, capabilities, and resources to assist with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. They have pledged $4.8 million in cash and additional in kind contributions in support of relief and recovery efforts. For example, Coca Cola has donated medical supplies, safe drinking water and cash, while Ecolab, a multi-national provider of hygiene products, has given 1.8m worth in germ sanitizers and disinfectants.

The CCC conference call provided everyone with the latest information on the humanitarian response and the efforts required to contain the disease. Dr. Beth Bell, Director of the National Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC, is one of the leading experts on the response to the Ebola outbreak, joined this phone conversation along with others from the UN, UPS Foundation, Samaritan’s Purse and International Medical Corps. 

The Governments of the affected countries have been responding to the outbreak since it first emerged in March 2014. A number of external issues such as difficulty in accessing affected countries and communities; internal dynamics (low capacity of national health systems and the unavailability of the requisite medical personnel and goods on a scale adequate to prevent, trace and treat the disease) and epidemiological reasons limit these Governments’ capacity.

In the coming days and weeks these nations need global support to get through the immediate crisis. Thankfully, the world is responding. U.S. President Obama has committed 3,000 troops and huge resources to take on this disease. While the UN held the first ever Security Council meeting on a health issue and set up a dedicated mission to join the fight against Ebola.  If we don't get this situation under control in the next six to eight weeks, it could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia