Category Archives: Poverty

EbolaWatch: Money, misery, fight, flight, woes


First up, a belated move from Washington via BBC News:

Obama says Ebola outbreak a ‘global security threat’

President Barack Obama has called the West Africa Ebola outbreak “a threat to global security” as he announced a larger US role in fighting the virus.

“The world is looking to the United States,” Mr Obama said, but added the outbreak required a “global response”. The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.

Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization said.

More from the New York Times:

Obama Urges World Powers to Bolster Ebola Response

President Obama on Tuesday challenged world powers to ramp up the global response to the Ebola outbreak that is ravaging three West African countries, warning that unless health care workers, medical equipment and treatment centers are deployed quickly, the disease could take hundreds of thousands of lives.

“This epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Obama said at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he met with doctors who had just returned from West Africa. But “right now, the world still has the opportunity to save lives.”

He said “the world is looking” to the United States to lead the fight against Ebola. “This is a responsibility that we embrace,” he said. But he called on other nations to respond as well.

Still more from the Washington Post:

U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa

President Obama will announce Tuesday that the U.S. military will take the lead in overseeing what has been a chaotic and widely criticized response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, dispatching up to 3,000 military personnel to West Africa in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months, according to senior administration officials.

By the end of the week, a general sent by U.S. Africa Command will be in place in Monrovia, Liberia — the country where transmission rates are increasing exponentially — to lead the effort called Operation United Assistance. The general will head a regional command based in Liberia that will help oversee and coordinate U.S. and international relief efforts while a new, separate regional staging base will help accelerate transportation of urgently needed equipment, supplies and personnel.

In addition, the Pentagon will send engineers to set up 17 treatment centers in Liberia — each with a 100-bed capacity — as well as medical personnel to train up to 500 health-care workers a week in the region.

Here’s Obama’s statement, via PBS NewsHour:

President Obama announces plan to combat Ebola in Africa

Program notes:

President Obama spoke from the Centers for Disease Control today after a debriefing from doctors there. The President pledged support in the form of personnel, setting up an “air bridge” into regions difficult to reach, and the establishment of a mobilization center in Senegal.

From The Hill, gettin’ the word:

Obama, Ebola survivor meet in Oval Office

President Obama met in the Oval Office Tuesday with a U.S. doctor who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia, a spokesman said.

Obama met with Kent Brantly, the Ebola survivor, and his wife, Amber, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.

The meeting occurred shortly before Obama left Washington to announce an escalated U.S. response to the virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Brantly and another American medical worker, Nancy Writebol, were successfully treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both were given an experimental therapy called ZMapp and fully recovered from the virus, which kills roughly half of those who contract it.

The Christian Science Monitor asks a question:

Why is US deploying the military to fight Ebola?

On Tuesday, White House officials outlined a new plan to assign 3,000 members of the American armed forces to supply medical and logistical support to help treat Ebola epidemic victims.

Why is the Defense Department fighting the war on Ebola? The short answer is because it is the largest and most capable US organization available for emergency action, and has money to pay for the effort.

The military’s extensive airlift and health-care infrastructure can quickly plug holes in the current international fight to try and contain the Ebola outbreak. US personnel should be flowing into the area in force in about two weeks, according to the White House.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to move some $500 million of unspent funds within its budget into an account to fund Ebola action. The US has already spent some $175 million and moved 100 civilian experts from the Centers for Disease Control into West Africa.

And what are those soldiers learning about the invisible enemy they’re being dispatched to fight? Here’s the answer in the from of a video just posted [we were viewer 116] by the U.S. Army Public Health Command:

EVD: Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

Program note:

Information for service members deploying in response to the West African Ebola virus disease outbreak.

It’s concise and hits most of the key points, though we’d be a little more comfortable if they hadn’t used that gunsight graphic a bit too often. . .

From the New York Times, a price tag:

U.N. Sees Need for $1 Billion to Fight Ebola

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa risks ballooning into a humanitarian catastrophe without a major surge in international efforts to contain it, senior United Nations officials said Tuesday, estimating the cost of this effort at $1 billion.

The number of people affected by the disease is still rising at an “almost exponential” rate, Bruce Aylward, an assistant director general of the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva. He said the number of reported cases had climbed to 4,985, including 2,461 deaths. Half of the infections and deaths occurred in the past 21 days, he said, underscoring the acceleration of the outbreak. “We don’t really know where the numbers are going with this,” Mr. Aylward said.

A road map he announced nearly three weeks ago to guide the international response had called for the capacity to manage 20,000 cases, but “that does not seem like a lot today,” he said.

“The numbers can be kept in the tens of thousands,” he said, “but that is going to require a much faster escalation of the response if we are to beat the escalation of the virus.”

Deutsche Welle admonishes:

WHO warns Ebola cases could double every three weeks

The World Health Organization has warned that the number of Ebola cases could double every three weeks, with medics stressing it could soon become too late to contain the disease

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa could begin to double every three weeks, according the UN’s official health agency, with doctors warning that the likelihood of limiting the spread of the outbreak is becoming progressively smaller.

In a report released on Tuesday, the WHO claimed $987.8 million (770 million euros) was needed to cover expenses already incurred, including the payment of health workers and the cost of supplies.

At a meeting of the UN in Geneva, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged governments to act to halt the spread of the disease.

“The response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind,” said MSF President Joanne Liu. “The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater deployment, and we need it now.”

The Associated Press avers:

Ban: UN ‘taking lead’ on global fight of Ebola

The head of the United Nations said Tuesday that the world body is “taking the lead now” on international efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has killed some 2,400 people and could spread further.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press briefing that the U.N. General Assembly next week will follow-up with a high-level meeting — the disease, he said, taking on “a special focus” at an event that will welcome more than 140 heads of state and government. Before that, an emergency meeting will be held Thursday in which Ban and World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan plan to “outline the international action plan to contain this threat.”

The U.N.’s response so far has drawn criticism, with the president of France-based humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders on Tuesday calling it “dangerously behind.”

The World Health Organization gives thanks:

WHO welcomes Chinese contribution of mobile laboratory and health experts for Ebola response in west Africa

WHO welcomes the commitment from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to dispatch a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone to enhance the laboratory testing capacity for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.

The contribution comes in response to WHO’s appeal for further assistance to Ebola response efforts in Africa and requests by the government of Sierra Leone. In addition to laboratory experts, the 59-person team from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses. They will support Ebola response efforts at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital, which was built in 2012 with assistance from the Chinese Government.

“The most urgent immediate need in the Ebola response is for more medical staff,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The newly announced team will join 115 Chinese medical staff on the ground in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone virtually since the beginning. This is a huge boost, morally and operationally.”

Liberian Observer offers optimism:

“We can Win This fight”, UNICEF Deputy

In support of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has opened a five-day Training of Trainers (TOT) of social workers and mental Health clinicians across Liberia.

At the opening of the workshop yesterday at the Corinna Hotel in Sinkor, the Deputy Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque, said the training is intended to provide the relevant skills and ability to roll out the needed psychosocial services to meet the needs of the Ebola-affected  communities.

“We are fully delighted to provide support to the government of Liberia to train these social workers and mental health clinicians of various counties to ensure that we meet the necessary needs of affected communities,” Dr. Haque stated.

StarAfrica decries:

Kenya lashes out at West over slow Ebola response

Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday called for concerted efforts against Ebola, saying the global reaction to the deadly disease would not have been the same if it had happened in Europe or America.Speaking during a round table discussion panel of high level delegates comprising of Heads of States and leaders of Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenyatta said time has come for African leaders to look for homegrown solutions to the continent’s problem.

He said the global response to Ebola outbreak is a wakeup call to African leaders to partner and set aside resources to tackle health challenges facing the continent.

He urged African leaders to work in solidarity in tackling various challenges facing the continent, including health and security problems.

StarAfrica again, with another number:

Kenya: $7m sets aside to ward off Ebola

Kenya’s Director of medical services, Dr. Nicholas Muraguri said on Tuesday the country has set aside $7 million as part of its contingency plan to prevent the entry of Ebola into the country, local media reported.This was revealed at the ongoing regional health minister’s conference in Nairobi seeking to address the challenges in tackling the spread of the Ebola virus in the continent.

He was quoted saying by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Television that the country remains on high alert to ensure the disease is kept at bay.

At the same the government has maintained that the ban on travelers from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the epicenters of the epidemic remains in force.

From Punch Nigeria, partial border closure continues:

Kenya maintains flight ban to Ebola-hit nations

The Kenyan government will not lift a travel ban to West African countries affected by an outbreak of Ebola virus until the risk reduce to a manageable level, state officials said on Tuesday

Director of Medical Services, Nicholas Muraguri, told journalists that Kenya remains vulnerable to Ebola transmission, and hence needs to intensify surveillance at ports of entry.

“The travel ban to Ebola-hit countries is temporal and since we are not convinced the risk levels are low, the ban will stay. However, we are closely monitoring the situation,” Muraguri said in Nairobi during the regional ministerial meeting on preparedness and response to Ebola.

From the Liberian Observer, a call from Ghana:

In Order to Eradicate Ebola, Ghanaian Prexy Wants Supports Expedited

The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, has called on international partners and friendly countries that have pledged to assist Liberia with human, financial and material resources in the fight against the dreadful Ebola virus to expedite the process.

President Mahama said though several promised donations would adequately help in combating the virus in the Mano River sub-regions, the problem is that those resources are very slow in coming and as such, there is the need for the process to be fast-tracked in order to augment the government efforts in the fight.

The ECOWAS’s Chair spoke Monday, September 15, when he paid “a solidarity visit” with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He was addressing a joint press briefing along with President Sirleaf in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ghanaian leader revealed at the briefing that he had held talks with United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, on the issue of expediting support to the governments of Ebola affected countries if the virus is to be fought effectively and contained. President Mahama revealed that his visit is to show solidarity from the people of Ghana to Liberia as the country goes through this difficult period.

More from the Monrovia Inquirer:

Ghanaian Leader Braves Ebola Storm…Pays One-Day Visit To Liberia

In spite of fear amongst citizens of non-affected countries in the wake of the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Ghanaian President, John D. Mahama has ended a one day visit to Liberia.   President Mahama is the first President to visit the West African country that now has the highest number of Ebola cases since the outbreak of the epidemic in Liberia in early March. The Ghanaian leader briefly met his counterpart, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before addressing a joint press conference yesterday.

President Mahama, who spent less than two hours in the country, expressed optimism that with determination, awareness, the Liberian people will be able to reciprocate. President Mahama said his visit is mainly about the observation of the guidelines by the Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).

He added, “From the onset of the outbreak of this disease, actions and measures were taken out of panic. Now that we have a clearer understanding of the disease and how it spreads and all of the ramifications; we should not panic or take measures that will isolate countries that are affected by this outbreak because by doing that will make it more difficult for the disease to be brought under control.”

A video report from FrontPageAfrica:

FPA WEB TV: Standing in Solidarity with Liberia

Program note:

Ghanaian President John Mahama, also the current ECOWAS Chairman, on a stop in Monrovia, Monday, outlines a number of measures and review mechanisms underway to end the isolation of countries hit by the deadly Ebola outbreak.

The Liberian Observer hears the shout of fire in a crowded political theater:

Ebola Fear Grips Lawmakers

The fear of the deadly Ebola virus has forced the House of Representatives to suspend its Extra Ordinary Sitting for Tuesday, September 16, 2014.

According to a statement issued from the House’s Press Bureau, leadership of the House took the decision based “on medical advice.” “The House Chambers and surrounding offices are expected to be disinfected due to a probable case of Ebola,” the statement said.

“Members and chamber staff have been asked to stay away for 48 hours after the fumigation.  “The Chief Clerk of the House, Madam Mildred Siryon, has been instructed to communicate the House’s decision to the Liberian Senate. The House took the decision after one of the Chamber’s doorkeepers, Captain James Morlu suddenly died.

From the Liberian Observer again, a call for action:

Health Advocacy Group Wants GOL Improves Its Ebola Response

The National Health Advocacy Network of Liberia (NHANL) has called on the Liberian Government to focus on improving responses on the removal and burial of bodies.

The group also urged the GOL to trace people who have made contacts with infected persons. The National Coordinator of the NHANL, Mark Marvey, spoke to newsmen Monday at his Sinkor offices.

Marvey said his organization has encouraged the government to prioritize the re-opening of health facilities in order to avoid preventable deaths and maternal mortality.

Punch Nigeria pleads:

Ebola: Jonathan begs NUT to shelve strike

President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the Nigerian Union of Teachers to shelve its plan to embark on strike in protest against government’s directive that schools should resume on September 22.

The NUT had maintained that it would be unsafe for schools to resume on September 22 until the country was completely rid of the Ebola Virus Disease.
But President Jonathan, who spoke with state house correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, said instead of going on strike, the NUT should commend government on its handling of the outbreak of the Ebola disease.

He said, “I will plead with NUT and other unions that this does not require industrial action. They should commend government. They worked with us, they are Nigerians; all Nigerians must work together to make sure that we contain Ebola. Why do we want to create problems while it is not necessary? It is uncalled for.”

Punch Nigeria again, covering the deplorable:

NAFDAC impounds expired hand sanitisers, Ebola kits

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, has impounded 104 brands of expired hand sanitisers and fake Ebola testing kits at various borders in the country.

The NAFDAC Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos, where importers of the fake products were paraded on Tuesday, warned that counterfeiters have flooded the Nigerian market with expired hand sanitisers and  fake Ebola testing kits

Orhii said,”So far, we have quarantined 104 brands that were illegally imported into the country without certification by NAFDAC. It is worrisome to observe that some unscrupulous businessmen have turned the country into a dumping ground by bringing in all sorts of products including expired hand sanitisers.

And for our final item, via the Liberian Observer, market mobilization:

ABIC Takes Ebola Awareness to Markets

The Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Liberia office yesterday launched a massive Ebola Awareness campaign at the Rally Time Market on UN Drive in Monrovia.

Yesterday’s activities were in collaboration with the youths and marketers, and are expected to include all markets in Monrovia as well as in the counties.

The ABIC Ebola awareness campaign was launched under the theme “Spread the Word, not the Virus.”

The center is run on the basis to unite women to lift the world with the latest intention to stop the Ebola’s denial and to join the fight against the EVD together.

EbolaWatch: Religion, promises, measures, death


We open with a rather chilling video, shot on the streets of Liberia’s capital, in which Christian fundamentalists conduct a very risky [note the touching] faith-healing prayer session around a prone Ebola patient.

From RadioAfrica:

LIBERIA:(RELIGION AND THE FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA)

Program notes:

Group of Liberians Evangelist prays over a suspected Ebola patient. All facing the possibility of contracting the deadly virus.

On to the hard news, first with the Associated Press:

UN Security Council to meet on Ebola

The United States called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council Thursday on the Ebola crisis in West Africa, saying the situation on the ground is “dire” and getting worse every day.

U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States has asked the 193 U.N. member states to come to the meeting with “concrete commitments” to tackle the outbreak, especially in hardest-hit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“The trendlines in this crisis are grave, and without immediate international action we are facing the potential for a public health crisis that could claim lives on a scale far greater than current estimates, and set the countries of West Africa back a generation,” Power told reporters on Monday. “This is a perilous crisis but one we can contain if the international community comes together to meet it head on.”

Word from Washington leaked, via Reuters:

Obama to detail plans on Ebola offensive on Tuesday: WSJ

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to detail on Tuesday a plan to boost his country’s involvement in mitigating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The plan would involve a greater involvement of the U.S. military in tackling the worst recorded outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the proposal.

The U.S. government has already committed around $100 million to tackle the outbreak by providing protective equipment for healthcare workers, food, water, medical and hygiene equipment.

Obama could ask Congress for an additional $88 million to fund his proposal, the WSJ reported. Plan details are expected during Obama’s visit Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

More from Science:

U.S. government set to announce surge of help for Ebola epidemic

A week after sharp criticism met the U.S. military’s announcement that it planned to help Liberia combat its Ebola epidemic with a “deployable hospital” that has a mere 25 beds, U.S. President Barack tomorrow plans to unveil dramatic new efforts to assist the West African countries besieged by the disease.

Obama, who will be visiting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to discuss the U.S. response, likely will announce plans to send more deployable hospitals, critical medical supplies like personal protective gear, and doctors and other healthcare workers who can care for infected people and help contain spread. (A  U.S. Senate hearing on Ebola will also take place tomorrow with testimony from key public officials and Ebola survivor Ken Brantly.)

Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spoke with ScienceInsider on Friday and said she expected there would be “a substantial surge” in the U.S. government’s assistance. She particularly wants to see more attention paid to providing infected people with good care. “There’s a very, very wide variability in what’s being delivered as clinical care,” says Lurie, noting that case fatality rates differ dramatically  in different locations. “We know that simple interventions are likely to save the most lives.”

From the Associated Press, a question:

US works to step up Ebola aid, but is it enough?

The American strategy on Ebola is two-pronged: Step up desperately needed aid to West Africa and, in an unusual step, train U.S. doctors and nurses for volunteer duty in the outbreak zone. At home, the goal is to speed up medical research and put hospitals on alert should an infected traveler arrive.

Amid criticism that the world still is not acting fast enough against the surging Ebola epidemic, President Barack Obama travels Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the outbreak with health officials who’ve been there.

Also Tuesday, a Senate hearing will examine the U.S. response. An American missionary doctor who survived the disease is scheduled to testify.

The administration hasn’t said how big a role the military ultimately will play — and it’s not clear how quickly additional promised help will arrive in West Africa.

Trooping in, via the Monrovia [Liberia] Inquirer:

U.S. Military To Build 25-Bedroom Ebola Hospital

It has been disclosed in Monrovia that the United States (US) Military will build a 25-bedoom hospital in the country to buttress efforts aimed at fighting the Ebola virus.     United State Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Madam Debra Malac, said discussions are ongoing as where the hospital should be built but was certain that it would be constructed in Montserrado County.

Ambassador Malac addressing the weekly Press Briefing at the Ministry of Information said the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa is an International Security priority for the U.S. Government and as such they will continue to be engaged in the region to eradicate the disease.

The U.S. Envoy said, “This is the worst outbreak of this virus in 40 years since it was first discovered. We defeated it and this time we will defeat it again. We will stop Ebola and it will take more work.”

Here’s a video report on her press conference from FrontPageAfrica:

FPA WEB TV: Uncle Sam’s Ebola AID

Program note:

U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Debora Malac outlines how much financial assistance in kind and in dollars the U.S. has contributed to the West Africa Ebola Outbreak.

From the Monrovia Inquirer, another hospital inaugurated:

Save The Children Constructs Central Region 1st Ebola Treatment Unit

Save the Children has turned over a 50-bed Ebola Treatment facility in Suakoko, Bong County worth about US$170,000 intended to serve the central region as part of its contribution to the national fight against the spread of the virus in other parts of the country.

The construction of the ETU which is a project solely undertaken by Save the Children according to its acting Country Director, Mercy Gichuhi who turned over the unit, was as a result of a request made to them from the local health team of Bong County.

Madam Gichihi said Save the Children believes that the construction of the health facility will go a long way in responding to the health need in that region and that Phebe Hospital focuses more on primary health care and at the same time give confidence to the health workers who will know that they have a place to refer confirmed Ebola patients.

Al Jazeera English covers critical context:

Nigeria’s weak health sector confronts Ebola

Spread of Ebola contained, but health system is having trouble dealing with treatable diseases which kill thousands.

Africa’s biggest oil producer and largest economy has one of the world’s highest child and maternal mortality rates. In 2012, an estimated 827,000 children under five died, while the reported maternal mortality rate was 550 per 100,000 live births, according to UNICEF.

Most of Nigeria’s childhood deaths are due to preventable or curable diseases: mainly malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea. Primary healthcare, run by local governments – Nigeria’s smallest unit of government – is tasked with handling these common illnesses.

The level of care in each centre varies, but generally, primary facilities do not have enough health workers, supplies, equipment, training, or transport – including ambulances to take patients to state or federal hospitals, says Michael Asuzu, a public health and epidemiology professor at the University of Ibadan.

From BBC News, a Brit on the scene:

Ebola virus: ‘Biological war’ in Liberia

With warnings from officials that the Ebola virus is “spreading like wildfire” in Liberia, Sarah Crowe, who works for the UN children’s agency (Unicef), describes her week on the Ebola front line:

Flights into disaster zones are usually full of aid workers and journalists. Not this time.

The plane was one of the first in after some 10 airlines stopped flying to Liberia because of Ebola, and still it was empty.

When I was last in Liberia in 2006, it was to work on reintegration of child soldiers in a time of peace. Now the country is fighting a “biological war” from an unseen enemy without foot soldiers.

As we enter the airport, an unnerving sight – a team of health workers kitted out with masks and gloves asks us to wash our hands with a chlorine solution and takes our temperatures.

A parallel set of American eyes from the Washington Post:

A virus hunter faces the big one: Ebola

Joseph Fair hunts viruses. That’s his thing. The 37-year-old American loves chasing dangerous pathogens, studying them in secure labs or searching for them in jungles where the microbes lurk.

And one virus has always loomed as the big one — Ebola. The scientists who first chased this dreaded microbe back in the ‘80s and ‘90s became legends, inspiring a generation of virologists like Fair. He read their books and papers. He studied how they contained the pathogen’s spread. And the scientists always won. The outbreaks ended, Ebola driven away.

So when the call came in March to travel to Sierra Leone, Fair was excited. He loved Mama Salone, as locals know the nation. He’d worked here for years. His new job: to advise Sierra Leone’s government on a tiny Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea, at the behest of the U.S. Defense Department. He set up an Ebola emergency operations center. He trained medical staff. He drew up just-in-case plans. By mid-May, the outbreak seemed on its way out. Fair packed his bags and left.

Then Ebola exploded.

From FrontPageAfrica, high-level visitors take a pre-opening hospital tour:

FPA WEB TV: ‘Liberia Will Beat Ebola’

Program notes:

World Health Organization (WHO) team tours the soon-to-be completed 120-Bed Ebola Clinic at the Island Clinic in Monrovia. WHO and its partners have supported construction of this new centre, which will be able to provide treatment for 120 patients at a time. Additional centers for about 400 more patients will be completed in the coming weeks.

BBC News covers a donation:

Ebola outbreak: Malaysia sends W Africa medical gloves

Malaysia plans to donate more than 20 million protective rubber gloves to five African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, the government says.

They will be distributed among medical workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A shortage of protective equipment has been one factor in the virus spreading.

Joseph Harker asks a question we’ve also entertained, via the Guardian:

Why are western health workers with Ebola flown out, but locals left to die?

  • The death of Dr Olivet Buck after the WHO refused to fly her out of Sierra Leone is not just wrong: it’s making the Ebola epidemic worse

My brother-in-law, Albert, is a GP based in the West Midlands. His sister Olivet Buck was a doctor too: though her work was quite different. She practised in the land of their birth, Sierra Leone. For the past few months she was fighting in the desperate battle against Ebola ravaging parts of her country. Last Tuesday came the awful news that she’d caught the virus.

To save her life, local campaigners called for her to be evacuated to Germany to receive treatment – all three previous doctors who had caught the disease in the country had died. Sierra Leone’s president backed her, saying that a hospital in Hamburg was “in readiness to receive her”. Last Friday, though, the World Health Organisation said it would not allow her to leave Sierra Leone, and refused to fund the move. Desperate attempts were made to try to overturn this decision but on Sunday came the news everyone was dreading: Olivet had died.

Albert, distraught, told me: “I shall never stop weeping at all our loss. Olivet was a truly remarkable person. She died because she would not forsake her service to others.”

But the death of Olivet, a 59-year-old mother of three, raises wider questions about how the world responds to the Ebola crisis, and how it protects those working closest to stop its spread.

Despite the fate of the previous doctors, the WHO had said merely that it would work to give Buck “the best care possible” in Sierra Leone.

However, foreign health and aid workers have been sent abroad from Sierra Leone and Liberia for treatment – including the British nurse William Pooley, who survived and now wishes to go back to Sierra Leone to continue helping to fight the disease. Only last Friday, two Dutch doctors were flown home after coming into contact with infected patients.

But so far no local health workers have been evacuated: even though, according to the WHO, in west Africa 301 have so far caught Ebola and 144 have died. Dr Sheik Humarr Khan, Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor, was being considered for evacuation to a European country when he died of the disease in late July.

More from the Associated Press:

Sierra Leone: WHO too slow to help doc with Ebola

Sierra Leone accused the World Health Organization on Monday of being “sluggish” in facilitating an evacuation of a doctor who died from Ebola before she could be sent out of the country for medical care.

Dr. Olivet Buck died Saturday, hours after the U.N. health agency said it could not help evacuate her to Germany.

Buck is the fourth Sierra Leonean doctor to die in an outbreak that has also touched Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. The West African outbreak has been blamed for more than 2,400 deaths, and experts say it is out of control. The U.S. has called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council for this week to discuss the crisis.

At a heated news conference Monday, a Sierra Leonean government official read a statement saying that the Buck is the second doctor from that country to die because negotiations on evacuation had dragged on. Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, the country’s top Ebola expert, was being considered for evacuation when he died of the disease in July.

From the Kampala, Uganda, Daily Monitor, a warning:

Tanzania at high risk of Ebola outbreak

Last week, the Tanzanian government assured the public of its unwavering commitment to keeping Ebola out after standard thermal scanners to detect Ebola suspects were installed at four major airports-Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Zanzibar and Mwanza.

At the weekend, Health ministry authorities were hard at work allaying fears of an outbreak in Tanzania. But a new study titled “Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa” has raised the alarm in Tanzania and other countries across Africa where Ebola has never been reported.

It suggests that governments in those countries should start thinking of new ways to deal with the Ebola threat beyond targeting major airports and seaports. The researchers, who published the findings in eLife Journal this week, believe the Ebola virus is thriving in wild animals, which are its major reservoir. Tanzania, Burundi and 13 other African countries where no case of Ebola has been reported so far are home to wild animals.

Public Radio International makes that critical point:

This American doctor says racism is to blame for the slow response to the Ebola outbreak

Why has the global response to the Ebola outbreak been so slow? “I think it’s racism,” says Dr. Joia Mukherjee.

“I think it’s easy for the world — the powerful world, who are largely non-African, non-people of color — to ignore the suffering of poor, black people,” says Mukherjee, a professor at Harvard Medical School and chief medical officer at the Boston-based non-profit Partners in Health.

Race isn’t the only reason she believes it’s easy to dismiss the issues. “I think it’s also classism,” she says. “These are not countries that contribute massively to the global economy, so it’s easy to just otherize this problem.”

In that context, consider this from a country where a disproportionately large percentage of those in need of assistance are African American, via Salon:

Arizona GOPer quits after disgusting comment — but there’s a catch

  • Russell Pearce called for sterilizing Medicaid recipients. It’s gross, but here’s why the problem’s bigger than him

Pearce’s proposal was abhorrent, but it also laid bare the dehumanizing logic of Republican programs that punish the poor. If the GOP wants to distance itself from punitive and invasive policies that hurt low-income families, they should look in the mirror and start slowly backing away from their reflections.

A few things here. Pearce’s idea isn’t new. The United States has an ugly history of forced or otherwise coerced sterilization against people of color, the poor and others considered “unfit to procreate,” including rape victims and people with disabilities. Between 1907 and 1980, nearly 65,000 Americans were sterilized under state-sponsored programs. In total, 31 states had sterilization programs that directly targeted welfare recipients. North Carolina recently acted to compensate victims of its forced sterilization program, which specifically targeted black women and children. (And last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that nearly 150 women in California’s prison system were sterilized between 2006 and 2010, often without their knowledge or consent. The state legislature acted this year to end the program.)

That said, Pearce isn’t the only Republican to float the idea of coercively sterilizing welfare recipients in recent years. And his proposal is hardly the only assault on low-income families in the state. Arizona, you’ll remember, is where Shanesha Taylor was arrested after leaving her children in the car so she could attend a job interview.

From Punch Nigeria, help wanted:

ECOWAS seeks support for research

The Economic Community of West African States has appealed to its partners to support the regional initiatives aimed at strengthening epidemiological and therapeutic research as well as surveillance and improvements in health facilities in order to prevent and control the Ebola Virus Disease.

The sub-continental body called for support for the Regional Solidarity Fund to fight Ebola and welcomed the pledges made by some multilateral and bilateral partners to support some of the affected countries.

Speaking at the opening of the 10th edition of the ECOWAS/Development Partners Annual Coordination meeting at the ECOWAS Secretariat on Monday, in Abuja, President of the Commission, Mr. Kadre Ouedraogo, said the group welcomed the coordinated approach adopted to combat the viral disease through the World Health Organisation.

StarAfrica covers another donation:

China donates 80mn francs worth of Ebola prevention materials to Mali

The Malian president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has returned from his trip to China with a CFA 80 million francs worth medical material aimed at backing his government’s efforts to prevent the Ebola virus from entering the country, the Malian presidency disclosed Sunday.

The Chinese donation includes 1,000 sprays, 1,000 protective gears, 30 medically-equipped isolation tents, 600 protective masks, 600 shoes and 1,000 thermometers.

The Malian press reported recently the complaints of the medical staff deployed in Bamako road station where passengers from Ebola-hit neighboring Guinea are hosted.

The medical staff had lamented a lack of protective means which increases the risk of contagion.

From Punch Nigeria, a reminder about a key player:

Private sector in the first line of battle

The management of the Ebola Virus Disease has cost the Federal Government N2.1bn so far. Last month, a sum of N1.9bn was released to the Federal Ministry of Health for disbursement to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Lagos State, as the first epicentre of the outbreak, also got a separate N200m support from the Federal Government.

The funds, no doubt, are a drop in the ocean in providing Personal Protective Equipment discarded daily after use by health workers in isolation centres across the country; intravenous fluid and other drugs for infected people, diagnostic machines, daily payment for volunteers and other sundry expenses attached to the management of the virus.

Ahead of the September 22 resumption date for all primary and post primary schools in the country, a coalition of players in the private sector are seeking for an active participation in preventing a future outbreak of the EVD, especially in congested communities across the country.

The Guardian questions:

As Ebola closes schools in Africa, how do we help children learn?

  • As Ebola robs children of schooling, the seeds are being sown for continued problems. Vigilance and flexibility may be our best response to the virus

In response to the growing threat of Ebola across west Africa, the governments of Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have closed their schools. The closures are only temporary, but that could change if the spread of the virus continues and accelerates.

As of 12 September, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are facing widespread and intense transmission of Ebola (about 100 to 200 new cases per country per week). In other affected countries, the outbreak has been more localised. But in each affected areas the threat could expand rapidly, and there are credible predictions that Ebola could migrate to 15 additional countries and infect more than 20,000 people.

With that prognosis, closing schools is an understandable and prudent step to protect children and their families from exposure. The most immediate priority is to put out a raging and growing fire that threatens to affect more lives and territory.

And the Kampala, Uganda, Daily Monitor throws another handful of sand into gearbox:

Residents uproot cassava in fear of floods

Farmers in Omoro Sub-county, Alebtong District have begun uprooting their cassava, fearing it might rot in gardens. The move follows persistent rains that have caused flooding in the area.

Farmers who spoke to Daily Monitor said uprooting the cassava might save them from totally losing out as other crops have been washed away by floods.

As a measure, residents are drying their crops on roof tops and others have constructed high raise houses where they can temporarily sleep as they wait for floods to reduce.

And from StarAfrica, our final item and another critical bit of context:

Namibia ropes in Ethiopian pharmacists to address shortage

Currently, Namibia has 55 pharmacists working in the public health sector, of which ten are Namibians while the rest are expatriates.

With the population of just over two million, the country needs at least 1000 pharmacists, as in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended ration.

In 2012, the University of Namibia established a School of Pharmacy, an edition to the Medical School, which the Health Minister said are part of the country’s long-term effort to address the shortage of qualified health personnel.

Ebola crisis, deaths vastly underestimated


Finally, a journalist gets it right.

We’ve been focused intensely on the Ebola crisis for two reasons: The sad relative neglect given the crisis by mainstream medium in the U.S. and Europe [except, that is, when a Westerner/Northerner gets sick or when there's a false alarm] and because it is our conviction that the current Ebola is the biggest news story of the year.

Yes, what’s happened in the Mideast is atrocious, but the flaws in the global health system and the instinctive ethnocentrism exhibited by the industrialized nations revealed by the crisis are a harbinger of things to come. And the wide-scale spread of the outbreak and the resulting horrendous human tragedy demand far more than our own sadly diminished news media have thus far been able to give.

Thus, it’s left to alternative media such as Democracy Now! to give the crisis the attention it merits, as in this interview with Pulitzer-winning public health journalist Laurie Garrett.

From Democracy Now!:

Underestimated and Ignored, Growing Ebola Epidemic Requires Unprecedented Global Mobilization

Program notes:

The World Health Organization is warning that the number of new Ebola cases in West Africa is growing faster than relief workers can manage. The organization says that thousands are at risk of contracting the virus in the coming weeks and more medical professionals are urgently needed to help contain the outbreak. So far, Ebola has claimed some 2,400 lives and continues to ravage Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone has lost a fourth doctor to Ebola after efforts to transfer her abroad for treatment failed. The loss is a major setback for the impoverished country, which is already suffering from a shortage of healthcare workers. Since the Ebola outbreak began, approximately 144 healthcare professionals have died while serving affected populations. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

EbolaWatch: Alarms, shortages, communities


We open with the apocryphal via the London Daily Mail:

U.S. scientists say Ebola epidemic will rage for another 12 to 18 months

  • U.S. scientists say the Ebola crisis is worsening
  • They predict the virus will rage for another 12 to 18 months
  • As of September 7, there had been 4,366 Ebola cases including 2,218 deaths, more than half of them in Liberia
  • The most recent figures from Liberia reported 400 new cases as of September 7 – almost double the number reported the previous week

Epidemiologists have been creating computer models of the Ebola epidemic for the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department.

The model they have created is a far less optimistic estimate than that of the World Health Organization (WHO), which last month said it hoped to contain the outbreak within nine months and 20,000 total cases.

The McClatchy Foreign Staff covers tragic contribution:

UN: Doctors, nurses play role in both treating, spreading Ebola

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, told reporters Friday at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva that “the number of new patients is moving faster than the capacity to manage them.” She said the world health community needs three to four times as many resources at it has committed “to catch up with the outbreaks.”

As of Friday, 4,784 people have fallen ill with Ebola, of whom more than 2,400 have died, she said. The most affected countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where, Chan said, “there is not a single bed available for an Ebola patient in the entire country.”

Sarah Crowe, an official of the U.N. Children’s Fund, better known as UNICEF, said there were 370 beds occupied by Ebola victims in Liberia. “There’s a real sense this virus is taking over the whole country,” she said via a teleconference hookup from Monrovia, the Liberian capital.

Chan said the WHO still is seeking 500 to 600 doctors from abroad and at least 1,000 more nurses to dispatch to Africa to counter the epidemic. But with 301 health workers known to be infected with the virus _ almost half of whom have died _ finding volunteers has been difficult.

StarAfrica covers the military front:

ECOWAS defence chiefs join anti-Ebola crusade

Regional security chiefs in West Africa have made a joint declaration, registering their unequivocal backing for the ongoing crusade against the Ebola epidemic which has ravaged the region since February.In a statement on Sunday, the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) described the outbreak as a threat to regional security which requires an emergency response.

The CCDS said every material and human resource must be deployed in the campaign to banish the disease from West Africa where some 2, 400 people have died as the epidemic goes on the rampage in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

“The military is ever ready and always the first to respond to any emergency such as this outbreak, which is a threat to regional security,” the CCDS declared.

The Guardian covers another casualty:

Ebola outbreak: fourth doctor dies in Sierra Leone

  • Country, which has a shortage of healthcare workers, asked for Dr Olivet Buck to be treated abroad but was turned down

Sierra Leone has lost a fourth doctor to Ebola after efforts to transfer her abroad for treatment failed, a government official said Sunday.

The death is a huge setback to the impoverished country, which is battling the virulent disease amid a shortage of healthcare workers.

Dr Olivet Buck died late Saturday, hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it could not help medically evacuate her to Germany, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer Dr Brima Kargbo confirmed to the Associated Press.

Sierra Leone had requested funds from WHO to transport Buck to Europe, saying the country could not afford to lose another doctor. WHO said it could not meet the request but instead would work to give Buck “the best care possible” in Sierra Leone, including possible access to experimental drugs.

From the Washington Post, the sad reality:

As Ebola cases accelerate, Liberia’s sick must fend for themselves.

With each day, the small group of caregivers trying to cope with the worst outbreak of Ebola on record falls further and further behind as the pace of the virus’s transmission rapidly accelerates. Health facilities are full, and an increasing number of infected people are being turned away, left to fend for themselves.

The epidemic has killed more than 2,200 people in five African countries and now poses a threat to Liberia’s “national existence,” according to its defense minister. The World Health Organization says the epidemic’s growth has been “exponential” in recent weeks, especially in Liberia.

The Doctors Without Borders center in Paynesville, on the outskirts of Monrovia, has 160 beds and is scheduled to add 25 on Monday. It needs 1,200 — and a corresponding increase in staff — to cope with the epidemic, said Sophie-Jane Madden, a spokeswoman for the organization. As Ebola begins to race through this city, that number is certain to increase.

“We’re just running behind the virus, aren’t we?” Madden said. “And taking the sickest people because we don’t have the capacity” for more. On Friday, 23 people were admitted, 25 were turned away, nine died and seven were released after recovering, she said.

From the Liberian Observer, local initiative:

Alfalit, LGM Ebola Staff Storm Johnsonville Community

  • Promises Solid Structures for Ebola Burial Site Hand washing Reservoir

Phase 2 of Alfalit-Liberia and Liberia/Ghana Missions Ebola virus outreach drive support kicked off last week, leading staff and officials of the entities to storm the Johnsonville community with sensitization and awareness messages.

In an emotional encounter with the weary Ebola news residents and officials last Thursday, the group donated 300 bags of safe drinking water and awareness T-shirts as initial assistance.

The LGM and Alfalit-Liberia’s officials were quick to disclose that following intensive discussions among members of the leadership, the entities decided to construct a solid structure to memorialize the Ebola virus dead bodies.

Besides, the officials also promised to make available 1000 bags of pure drinking water to residents and citizens of Johnsonville Community up to December 31, 2014 due to the bad nature of well water in the area.

BBC News punishes deserters:

Ebola outbreak: Liberia ‘sacks absentee officials’

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sacked 10 government officials who have been “out of the country without an excuse,” amid a national Ebola crisis.

She said the officials had shown “insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority”.

The 10 were given a one-week ultimatum more than a month ago to return home. The 10 officials include two commissioners, six assistant ministers and two deputy ministers at the justice ministry, Wheatonia Dixon-Barns and Victoria Sherman-Lang.

From the Liberian Observer, more local initiative:

Bomi Ebola Taskforce Receives Anti-Ebola Materials

A local-based non-governmental organization under the auspices of Bomi Citizens against Ebola (BCAE) has donated anti-Ebola materials to the county’s Ebola Taskforce and Health Team in Tubmanburg.

BCAE donation comes against the backdrop of the ongoing fight against the deadly Ebola virus that has spread across the country.

The donated items included chlorine, Clorox, faucets bucket, mattresses and fuel.

Presenting the items, BCAE’s steering committee chair, Mr. Kederick F. Johnson, informed the County Superintendent Samuel Brown and Acting County Health Officer, Dr. Gabriel Logan, that the materials valued US$1,000 and is the organization’s initial contribution toward the county’s taskforce efforts to eliminate the disease.

The Liberian Observer again, with more local initiative:

FTP Identifies With LBS, JFK in Ebola Fight

The Flomo Theater Production, a local dramatic group, last Friday donated an amount of L$10,000 to the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) and several bottles of mineral water to the Ebola Treatment Unit within the compound of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.

The donation according to the authority of FTP is meant to intensify the fight against Ebola as the media and hospital have cardinal roles to play.

Presenting the items on behalf of the group, Siafa Ballah, Executive Director of FTP, said the donation is their own way of identifying with the station as well as people who had been infected with the virus and currently undergoing treatment at the Ebola Treatment unit at JFK.

From CBC News, a Canadian’s fears:

Ebola crisis: Nursing student returns from ‘terrifying’ aid trip

  • Ian MacKay, 23, spent a month in quarantine after 2 aid workers at his clinic contracted Ebola

A 23-year-old nursing student’s trip to Liberia to try and help contain the spread of Ebola has left him haunted by the memories and compelled to return.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” Ian MacKay told CBC’s Chris Brown. “I’ve never feared for my life as much as I did in Liberia.”

“Knowing that I had been exposed to the virus … and it was a bloody, painful death was the scariest part of it all,” he said.

Der Spiegel covers a German’s fears:

‘His Father Had Lied to Us’: German Doctor Shares Harrowing Ebola Encounter

After the discovery of Ebola at the only children’s hospital in Sierra Leone, nurses and doctors alike fled. German physician Werner Strahl of the aid organzation Cap Anamur, who stayed behind to provide care amidst the chaos, shares his story.

Werner Strahl, 70, is chairman of the Cologne, Germany-based medical aid organization Cap Anamur. The organization has operated Sierra Leone’s only children’s hospital in the capital city of Freetown for the past five years. Strahl, a pediatrician who has worked for Cap Anumur for three decades, visited the Ola During Children’s Hospital in August just as its staff unwittingly admitted its first Ebola-infected child. In the following account, compiled from an interview Strahl conducted with SPIEGEL reporter Katrin Elger, the doctor describes the chaos that ensued. Strahl says he has never returned from a trip feeling as “glum” as he did his harrowing visit to Freetown.

We were sitting in the morning meeting when it dawned on us that something must have gone terribly wrong. A few days earlier, a four-year-old boy with a high fever had been brought to us at the hospital. As a matter of course, a nurse responsible for admissions asked the father if he had been in contact with anyone who had suddenly fallen ill. Had anyone in the family been buried recently? Any suspected cases of Ebola?

The father answered “no” to every single question and a blood test also confirmed that Melvin-Vincent, his gravely ill son, was suffering from Malaria.

StarAfrica demands oversight:

S/Leone: MP wants NGOs Ebola funds monitored

The Majority Leader in Sierra Leone’s parliament Sunday urged fellow citizens to be vigilant in monitoring NGOs over funds they received on behalf of the nation to deal with the Ebola pandemic, rather than focusing all their attention on Mps.

Ibrahim Bundu, member of parliament for the governing All Peoples Congress (APC), said some $26M has been received by NGOs from international donors and that these funds were solicited in the name of Sierra Leoneans.

He said citizens must ensure that such funds were spent accordingly.

He however expressed frustration that despite the huge amount of money pouring into the hands of the NGOs, people keep complaining of the unavailability of gloves and personal protective gears, among others, for health workers.

From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda, the plight of those who help:

Health staff live in classrooms

This was revealed by the Kalangala District chairman, Mr Willy Lugoloobi, after Daily Monitor had asked him to comment on the state of the health sector in the district.

Kalangala- Lack of housing facilities in Kalangala District has forced a number of health workers in the area to sleep in school classrooms, health centre kitchens and dilapidated houses.

Those most affected include nurses and clinical officers in the district.

This was revealed by the Kalangala District chairman, Mr Willy Lugoloobi, after Daily Monitor had asked him to comment on the state of the health sector in the district.

Mr Lugoloobi told Daily Monitor that even the few which house staff such as Bukasa Health Centre IV, can only take a few of their staff. But can only sufficiently accommodate nine staff out of 29 health workers.

Punch Nigeria urges caution:

‘Don’t subject yourself to victimisation’

Nigerian pilgrims travelling for the 2014 Hajj have been warned not to display unnecessary panic about the Ebola Virus Disease at Saudi Arabia airports.

The Operations Manager of Hajj Mabrur Ventures Limited, Alhaji Zulkifli Adewunmi, gave the warning during a seminar organised by the HMVL for intending pilgrims.

Adewunmi explained that showing fear would result to stigmatisation of the pilgrims.

He noted that the use of sanitisers had become more pronounced in Nigeria because of the positive cases recorded in the country.

StarAfrica covers a call:

S/Leone: Minority leader urges ban on religious gatherings

The leader of the minority party in Sierra Leone’s parliament has called for the banning of all large religious gathering until the end of the prevailing state of emergency.The MP, Dr Bernadette Lahai, is concerned that despite the prohibition of all public gatherings across the country due to the state of emergency prompted by the Ebola epidemic, Christian and Muslim worshippers were still assembling.

The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party parliamentary lawmaker said Sunday that this poses high risk of spreading the Ebola virus. She was speaking on national TV, SLBC, during a live talk show aimed at defending the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency.

The government is preparing for a nationwide shutdown which it plans to use to sensitize the general public on the disease and seek to identify sick people for treatment.

For our final item, from the London Daily Mail, hailing money from the North:

Microsoft to the rescue: Co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates donate nearly $62 MILLION to fight Ebola in West Africa and stop the spread of the deadly disease

  • Co-founder Paul Allen has pledged a donation of $9 million just a month after donating $2.8 million to fight Ebola
  • Allen’s donation joins that of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged $50 million to support the cause

The good people from Microsoft Corp are at it again.

The tech giant’s co-founder, Paul Allen, says his charitable foundation is donating $9 million to support the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, just a month after donating $2.8 million to the American Red Cross for its work on the outbreak.

The gift to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes at a time when international groups, including Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization, have said resources to contain the epidemic and treat those affected are falling tragically short.

EbolaWatch: Grim predictions, official fears


We begin today’s coverage with a harsh question from the Washington Post:

Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path.’ Could it lead to Liberia’s collapse?

At a news conference Thursday, finance minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is at “war with an enemy we don’t see.” Two days earlier, the Ebola-ravaged country’s defense minister, Brownie Samukai, delivered a harrowing warning of his own.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” Samukai told the U.N. Security Council. “The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our state.”

The U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Karin Landgren, seems to agree with Samukai, at least to an extent. Landgren told the U.N. Security Council this week that “Liberians are facing their gravest threat since war,” referring to two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left more than 250,000 dead. Those bloody conflicts completely destabilized the country, and Liberia was still recovering when the current Ebola outbreak began.

Landgren warned the Security Council “that the Ebola crisis has become complex, with political, security, economic and social implications that will continue to affect the country well beyond the current medical emergency,” according to Global Post.

On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said Ebola has crippled the mining, agriculture and services sectors Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone, Reuters reported.

More from Deutsche Welle:

Ebola drags Liberia’s economy into recession

Liberia’s finance ministry has acknowledged that the ongoing Ebola outbreak has led to a decline of the country’s economic growth. This has forced the government to slash public expenditure.

The Ebola epidemic is not just devastating the Liberian population but is also severely crippling all sectors of the country’s economy: notably health, trade and education. Liberia is currently experiencing its worst ever crisis since the end of the country’s brutal civil war in 2003.

Announcing the fall in projected economic growth rate, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is now in a difficult moment amid the Ebola epidemic. “In all of this, our economy is taking a hit – serious hit,” the minister told reporters.

“This year we were projected to grow at 5.9 percent. Last year we grew 8.7 percent. The year before last year (2012), we grew 8.9 percent. Now, working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government has revised its growth projection to 2.5 percent.”

And still more from the World Health Organization:

The Ebola outbreak that is ravaging parts of west Africa is the largest, most severe, and most complex in the nearly four-decade history of this disease.

This is Ebola Zaire, the most deadly in the Ebola family of viruses. This is a dreaded virus that is highly contagious, but under only two very specific settings.

First, during care of patients at home by family members or in hospital settings without proper protection against infection. Second, during certain traditional burial practices that involve close contact with a highly infectious corpse.

In the 3 hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centres.

In Liberia, for example, an Ebola treatment facility, set up jointly by WHO and the Ministry of Health, was recently established to manage 30 patients. It had more than 70 patients the day it opened.

Today, Liberia has not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient anywhere in the entire country.

Our response is running short on nearly everything, from personal protective equipment, to body bags, to mobile laboratories, to isolation wards.

BuzzFeed examines failure [and the medium is finally devoting some good coverage to the story and deserves kudos]:

How Global Health Failed Liberia As The Ebola Outbreak Took Hold

  • Liberians have been sounding the alarm for weeks. Why has real action on Ebola been so slow?

This is a catastrophe Liberia saw coming. Earlier this summer, when hundreds of foreign medical personnel were working to battle Ebola in Sierra Leone, Monrovia watched its caseload swell. Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s assistant health minister, warned in late July that the capital didn’t have enough beds in its only Ebola treatment ward to admit all the patients who had come in with symptoms.

That wasn’t just inconvenient; it was a public health disaster. Patients aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, but once they do, they easily infect anyone who comes into contact with their bodily fluids. With no beds at the hospital, the sick returned home, and families without knowledge of the disease or its transmission cleaned up from the havoc it wreaked on their dying loved ones — and caught the disease themselves.

There weren’t more beds because there weren’t more resources — financial, logistical or human. “After the Philippine typhoon, there were 150 foreign medical teams” offering care, Dr. Ian Norton, who coordinates foreign medical teams for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia, told BuzzFeed News by telephone from Monrovia on Tuesday. “We’ve seen four here.”

From the Guardian, a sad truth:

Ebola outbreak an avoidable tragedy, say UK MPs

  • Commons committee report says hesitancy and lack of coordination over crisis suggests that emergency plans failed

In a blunt report published on Friday, the Commons International Development Committee urged Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) to place greater emphasis on building up weak health systems and to draw on the medical and managerial expertise of the NHS in doing so.

“The devastating ongoing Ebola epidemic in west Africa has served to emphasise the importance of establishing strong health systems,” it said. “The apparent hesitancy and lack of coordination in the international response suggest that the global health system and emergency plans have failed.”

While the committee described DfID as a “world-leader” in strengthening health systems, it said it feared the department’s “target-driven mentality”. It added that work with large international partnerships whose focus is on getting rapid results by concentrating on specific, high-profile diseases had come at the expense of shoreing up health infrastructures in poorer countries.

While the New York Times offers an epidemiologist’s chilling prognosis:

What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

From TheLocal.ch, another case of delayed assistance:

Switzerland steps up aid to Ebola-hit countries

Switzerland has pledged an additional two million francs in aid to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa which has killed over 2,400 people since the outbreak began in March.

The extra funding provided by Swiss Humanitarian Aid will be used to support Médecins sans Frontières Switzerland (MSF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), according to a government statement released on Friday.

One million francs will go to a MSF emergency programme for north Liberia, while the other million will be used by WFP for a regional emergency operation to fend off the hunger crisis triggered by the epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

From People’s Daily, ditto:

China offers new aid for combating Ebola

China on Friday announced a further 200 million yuan (32.54 million U.S. dollars) package of humanitarian aid to African countries and international organizations to help control Ebola.

The aid will include food, supplies for disease control, emergency treatment facilities, and capital support, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

China will also promote long-term medical cooperation with African countries, to help them raise their disease control and response abilities and improve public health systems.

The Associated Press prepares for a pep talk:

Obama to visit Atlanta health center to talk Ebola

President Barack Obama will travel next week to Atlanta to address the Ebola crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House said Friday.

During his visit on Tuesday, Obama will be briefed about the outbreak and discuss the U.S. response with officials, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Obama will also thank the doctors, scientists and health care workers responding to the crisis.

Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa. The Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and has been blamed for more than 2,200 deaths in West Africa. So far, the death rate is about 50 percent, with doctors and nurses at a high risk of contracting the virus.

Punch Nigeria covers a significant decision:

Uniport Alumni backs Sept 22 schools resumption

The University of Port Harcourt Alumni has thrown it’s weight behind the decision of the Federal government to shift backwards the resumption date for primary and secondary schools in the country to September 22.

In a statement issued on Friday and signed by it’s National President, Mr. Sampson Ngerebara and the National Secretary, Mr.  Chris Adokeme, the association explained that it was satisfied with the presentation of the Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu on the basis for the rethink.

The Minister had told Nigerians that the shift in the resumption date was necessitated by the fact that the spread of the Ebola virus has been contained in the country.

From StarAfrica, a bullet dodged:

Nigeria: Quarantined S/African tests negative for Ebola

A South African woman, who was under quarantine in Nigeria as a suspected Ebola case, has tested negative for the disease.The woman will be allowed to return home, a U.S. disease expert, Dr. Aileen Marty, who is assisting Nigerian health authorities said in Lagos on Friday.

The traveller, who had flown into Lagos via Morocco on Thursday, was held overnight in an Ebola treatment centre for tests after she acknowledged suffering Ebola-like symptoms after working in Guinea and Sierra Leone since April.

The two countries and Liberia have been the epicenters of the epidemic since February.

The Liberian Inquirer intercepts:

BIN Officer Suspected Of Ebola Intercepted

An officer of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) whose wife died of Ebola in Monrovia was intercepted en route to Boniken while returning to the Southeast.

He entered onboard a truck marked ‘TT 2085?. Winston Isaac arrived in Maryland at 9:00 a.m. on Monday and was discovered in the ‘Cassava Farm Community’ in Pleebo.

According to our correspondent, the truck was en route to Grand Kru County with goods on board while another report coming from the county on a community radio in Pleebo disclosed that the goods were rejected by residents in Grand Kru County on ground that a man whose wife died of Ebola was onboard even though he stopped in Pleebo but intercepted in Boniken.

The Liberian Inquirer again, with outrage:

18 Dead, 47 Suspected Ebola Cases On The By-Pass…Residents Stone Rep. Gray’s House For “Abandoned” Body

In the wake of the wide spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the city, residents of the By-pass community have reported the death of 18 persons in the community with at least 47 suspected cases of Ebola.   Yesterday, hundreds of angry residents and community dwellers set up roadblock in protest to a suspected Ebola body which they said have been locked indoor for the past three days in the Rock Spring Community.

The residents through their Chairman, Joseph S. Kannah and Madam Ernestine King said since the death of a boy identified as Alvin Nyanti commonly known as Chineseboy in the community they have made several calls to the   Ebola Response Center but to no avail.

Mr. Kannah said about 16 persons were suspected of having the virus in the Rock Spring Community who have been continuously denied by the various treatment centers due to limited capacity to host them.

And from the Liberian Inquirer once more, admonition:

Gov’t Renews Warning To Would-Be “Ebola Rogues”…Releases Report On The Expenditure Of U. S. $5m

The acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, says any individual or entity found to have abused the public trust in the management and operations of fund allotted for the fight against the deadly Ebola virus will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.   Acting Minister Konneh said the total estimated financial requirement to address the national response was initially quoted at US$2O million dollars, but rose to US$34.8 million when all implementing agencies submitted their three-month budget.

Minister Konneh said support to all health related interventions in this plan amounts to US$20 million, constituting 84 percent of the entire budget.

He said the Government of Liberia began the process with an initial injection of US$5 Million, made possible through a short term loan from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

The Associated Press covers treatment:

American gets blood from fellow Ebola survivor

An American aid worker infected with Ebola has been given blood from a fellow doctor who battled the disease, and Nebraska doctors say the man has responded well to aggressive treatment in the past week.

Dr. Rick Sacra received two blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantly last weekend after arriving at the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Phil Smith said Thursday. Sacra also has been given an experimental drug that doctors refuse to identify, and he has received supportive care including IV fluids.

Sacra is close friends with Brantly, one of the first two Americans treated for Ebola in Atlanta last month, from their missionary work.

Bloomberg covers another sad consequence of the crisis:

Black Market in Blood Serum Emerging Amid Ebola Outbreak

A black market for an Ebola treatment derived from the blood of survivors is emerging in the West African countries experiencing the worst outbreak of the virus on record, the World Health Organization said.

The United Nations health agency will work with governments to stamp out the illicit trade in convalescent serum, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters today in Geneva, where the organization is based. There is a danger that such serums could contain other infections and wouldn’t be administered properly, Chan said.

The WHO is encouraging the use of properly obtained serum to treat current patients and said last week it should be a priority. A third U.S. missionary worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and flown to the U.S. for medical care was treated with blood transfusions from another American who recovered from the virus last month. Doctors hope the virus-fighting antibodies in the blood help the 51-year-old physician, Rick Sacra.

BBC News covers substantial help:

Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas

Cuba is sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials say. Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organization says new cases in West Africa are increasing faster than the capacity to manage them.

Dr Margaret Chan, director of the WHO, said: “If we are going to go to war with Ebola we need the resources to fight. “I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known.”

BBC News again, with a symbolic gesture:

Recovered Ebola patient William Pooley to return to Africa ‘in a few weeks’

The first British person to contract Ebola in the current outbreak in Africa is to return to the country where he was infected in order to help others fight the disease.

William Pooley was treated in London after being flown out of Sierra Leone.

He has made a full recovery and, having been discharged from hospital, said he is to travel back within “a few weeks”.

Reuters covers withdrawal:

Netherlands to evacuate two doctors who had contact with Ebola victims

Authorities in the Netherlands are preparing to evacuate two Dutch doctors who had unprotected contact in Sierra Leone with patients who later died of Ebola, a Dutch public health official said on Friday.

The two doctors have shown no symptoms of the virus but authorities believe there is cause for concern because they were not wearing full protective clothing when they came into contact with the patients, who had not yet been diagnosed with Ebola.

“The two doctors’ personal protection should be considered inadequate. They could potentially have been exposed,” said Jaap van Dissel, director of the Dutch Center for Infectious Disease Control.

From BuzzFeed, the demographics of death:

Ebola Is Killing Women In Far Greater Numbers Than Men

  • A Liberian health official estimates 75% of Ebola deaths are women. That’s because they are the nation’s caregivers.

The Ministry of Health says fully 75% of the Ebola deaths it has counted are women, but it doesn’t release disaggregated mortality statistics. But Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant minister of health who provided the estimate, agrees that whatever the number, women bear the biggest mortality burden of this disease. Culturally, they are expected to do the caretaking. “In this country,” he said, “men are bullshit.”

Slowly, health care workers are getting the equipment they need to touch patients, a head-to-toe uniform called PPE, or personal protective equipment. But there are no plans to issue PPE to mothers and wives and daughters.

It’s hard to imagine a mother tolerating PPE. The goggles and masks obscure the face; the head-to-toe white suit engulfs familiar body language or movement. People in PPE are white plastic strangers.

From TheLocal.es, more European fear:

Two new possible Ebola cases hit Spain

A 13-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man, both from Nigeria, have been admitted to hospital on the island of Majorca and the southern Spanish region of Murcia over fears they’re infected with the highly contagious Ebola virus.

Both suspected Ebola carriers flew to Spain in the past three weeks from the Nigerian capital of Lagos, Spanish national daily ABC reported.

Displaying Ebola symptoms such as muscle pain and high temperatures on admission to hospital, they are being kept in isolation in secure units equipped with the necessary means to deal with infectious diseases.

And for our final item, via the Guardian, the despicable Down Under:

Queensland Ebola scare: tourism chief says media damaged Gold Coast brand

  • Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays after a man had been admitted to a Gold Coast hospital with ‘Ebola-like’ symptoms

The head of Gold Coast Tourism says sensational media reporting of the recent Ebola scare damaged the region’s brand as a holiday destination.

Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays and changed flights amid reports that a 27-year-old man had been admitted to the Gold Coast University hospital with “Ebola-like” symptoms.

Michael Walsh, 27, a fly-in, fly-out miner from Western Australia, was cleared on Thursday of having the deadly virus after two blood tests returned negative results.

Race and America’s growing wealth disparity


Here’s a fascinating interview by Sharmini Peries of The Real News Network with john a. powell, who holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley where he also serves as director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and as Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the UC Berkeley School of Law.

The subject is that grievous economic injustice borne by ethnic minorities — most grievously by African Americans as the result of the triumph of neoliberalism in the United States.

And note in particular what he says about good old UC Berkeley in the final paragraph of the transcript excerpt below:

From The Real News Network:

Federal Reserve Data Shows Growing Wealth Gap Based on Race

From the transcript:

POWELL: Well, the United States prided itself from its very beginning on being a country based on equality. It was in our Declaration of Independence. We as a country distinguished ourselves from England, where they had a very clear class system. And there was a sense that for white men in particular you could actually make anything of yourself. You could move, you could go get land. Now, there was the small problem that the land belonged to Native Americans, but still you could go get land. You could start a business. And to some extent that was true for white Americans. So the Horatio Algers story, which all of us has heard, although the person who wrote the story was born modest and died modestly, so he didn’t actually live it out, but the myth that we actually was a mobile society had some reality to it, up until about World War I, that we were more mobile than most of Europe, certainly more mobile than England. Now social mobility in the United States is probably near the bottom for developed countries. And that’s been true and growing since about 1970. So we still hold on to the myth, but it’s no longer reality.

And part of it is a function of our social policies. So the big thing is education and investing in people and making education really open for all. Education is supposed to be the great equalizer. Well, today, education is actually producing inequality. It’s not producing equality.

PERIES: How is that? Can you explain that a bit more?

POWELL: Well, two ways. First of all, as I said early, the myth was true for white men from after the New Deal. And then, after World War II, we had an effort to actually educate millions of servicemen, the G.I. Bill. Now, this actually didn’t say servicemen, but 90 percent of them were men, I think 98 percent. And so you got a chance to go to college, you got a chance to get a loan, you got a chance to be part of the American dream. And the American middle class exploded. But it was racially coded. It was largely for white men. Blacks and women were locked out.

And then, over the 1950s, blacks, women, Latinos, other groups started coming in as well. The reach of education, the reach of some of those programs, through fighting, through civil rights, through struggle. So it wasn’t that America just opened up. It started opening up. We had Brown v. Board of Education, we had sort of a crumbling of Jim Crow, which wasn’t simply about isolating people based on race; it was about isolating people from opportunity. So those opportunities became open or started opening up.

In the late ‘60s, with the election of President Nixon, those opportunities closed. So schools today are as segregated as they were in the 1960s. Elite schools–I teach at Berkeley. We have a very small number of African-American students. And it’s the elite schools in many ways that was the ladder to higher opportunity. And so all across the country we see a retrenchment for blacks, for Latinos, certainly for Native Americans. Asians are mixed. And the country simply is not doing anything about it. In fact, it’s trying very hard not to notice. And we now have racial segregation in schools. We have racial segregation in neighborhoods. And neighborhoods are the hub of opportunity. What neighborhood you live in determines what kind of park you have, if you have someplace to shop for food, where you go to school, is it safe. So the neighborhoods have been vastly retrenching in terms of segregation. And we had redlining. And so this whole mechanism of reproducing inequality is done largely through neighborhoods. There’s a saying that says in India they have the caste system, in England they have class. In the United States, they have zoning. And so when we look at what happened with the housing crisis, it was unevenly distributed, largely because of the segregated patterns throughout the neighborhoods.

John Oliver tackles $1 trillion student loan debt


Yep, it now tops everything except mortgage debt, and lenders have more coercive power to collect it than do lenders of any other form of debt, while the parallel growth of for-profit colleges [like those owned by UC Regent Richard "Greasy Thumb" Blum, spouse of Sen. Dianne Feinstein] have fuekled the rapid growth of student loans. Blum also presided over the board of regents during the massive inflation in tuition that forced increasingly numbers of students to resort to borrowing to attend the University of California.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Student Debt

Program note:

John Oliver discusses student debt, which is awful, as well as for-profit colleges, who are awfully good at inflicting debt upon us.