We open with a critique, via the Thomson Reuters Foundation:
Donors and WHO responded too slowly to West Africa Ebola outbreak – report
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the nations that fund it failed to respond quickly and effectively to the deadly West Africa Ebola outbreak despite repeated warnings by aid agencies, a UK parliamentary committee said on Thursday.
Ebola cases are rising dramatically in Sierra Leone, and the House of Commons International Development Committee said the international response was still “being outpaced on all fronts” by the spread of the Ebola virus in the former British colony.
The Ebola virus has killed more than 6,800 people and infected around 18,500 since March in West Africa, where poverty, corruption and civil war have left weak healthcare systems unable to cope with the spread of the disease.
The WHO’s response has been characterised by unnecessary bureaucracy and a failure to “see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” the report said.
The medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres had warned that the epidemic had reached unprecedented proportions in June 2014, it added.
The New York Times covers travel:
U.N. Secretary General to Visit Ebola-Plagued Nations
The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, plans to visit the three West African countries that have been hit the hardest by the Ebola outbreak, according to a senior United Nations official.
Mr. Ban is to make the announcement at a year-end news conference on Wednesday. The director general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, and his special envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, are to accompany him to West Africa.
The trip, which is to begin later this week, seems designed to send a message of solidarity with the three affected countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Reuters has the latest numbers:
Ebola toll nears 7,000; rate of spread slows in Sierra Leone – WHO
The death toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 6,915 out of 18,603 cases as of Dec. 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
There are signs that the increase in incidence in Sierra Leone has slowed, although 327 new cases were confirmed there in the past week, including 125 in the capital Freetown, the WHO said in its latest update.
“A major operation has been implemented to curb the spread of disease in the west of the country,” it said.
The totals for the three hardest hit countries from the latest World Health Organization Situation Report, released Wednesday:
The World Food Programme sounds a hunger alert:
Ebola Leaves Hundreds Of Thousands Facing Hunger In Three Worst-Hit Countries
- Lack of access to food in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could threaten over one million people
The number of people facing food insecurity due to the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone could top one million by March 2015 unless access to food is drastically improved and measures are put in place to safeguard crop and livestock production, two UN agencies warned.
The disease’s impact is potentially devastating in the three countries already coping with chronic food insecurity, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in three country reports published today.
Border closures, quarantines, hunting bans and other restrictions are seriously hindering people’s access to food, threatening their livelihoods, disrupting food markets and processing chains, and exacerbating shortages stemming from crop losses in areas with the highest Ebola infection rates, the FAO-WFP reports stressed.
In December 2014, half a million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in the three worst hit Western African countries.
From El País, Spanish Ebola problems:
Multiple deficiencies uncovered at hospital that treated Ebola victims
- Madrid’s Carlos III had confusing protocols and inadequate personnel training, report finds
The Madrid hospital where nursing assistant Teresa Romero contracted Ebola while treating an infected patient suffered from multiple deficiencies, a new report finds.
Insufficient personnel training, changing protocols, inadequate facilities for putting on and taking off protective suits, and other shortcomings were all listed in the study of La Paz-Carlos III hospital carried out by work inspectors.
The center has treated all of Spain’s Ebola cases, which include two patients repatriated from Africa as well as Romero, who was an employee there. Several dozen people who came into contact with the nursing aide while she was contagious were also kept under observation at Carlos III.
On to Africa, starting with a suspected case from StarAfrica:
Ebola: Guinean under close watch in G/Bissau
A citizen of Guinea Conakry is under close medical watch in Guinea Bissau’s Gabu hospital under suspicion of contracting Ebola, according to national radio quoting hospital sources on Tuesday.According to sources, the individual who is around 40 years of age has been showing symptoms similar to the virus including a temperature of just over 38 degrees.
However, the same sources were quoted by the national radio as pointing out that the suspected patient’s body temperature gradually decreased in recent hours.
In any case, he will be remaining under medical observation for 21 days, sources indicated.
On to the hardest hit country with Sky News:
Sierra Leone Braced For Increase In Ebola Cases
- Fears of a sharp increase of cases mean even those who have not died from the disease are being buried in Ebola graveyards
Sierra Leone, caught in the grip of the Ebola crisis, is bracing itself for a sharp increase in cases of the killer disease over the Christmas period.
The Government is so worried about the situation it has outlawed any seasonal public celebrations and will be putting soldiers on the street to make sure no one disobeys the directive.
The outbreak of the virus, which began a year ago in neighbouring Guinea and quickly spread to Liberia, is now dominating the lives of everyone in Sierra Leone.
The western part of the country, including the capital Freetown where around a third of the population of more than six million lives, is bearing the brunt of the current upturn in cases.
From BBC News, desperate measures:
Ebola: Sierra Leone begins house-to-house searches
Sierra Leone has begun house-to-house searches in the capital Freetown to find hidden cases of Ebola.
President Ernest Bai Koroma said that Sunday trading would be banned and travel between districts restricted. The president said that as Christmas approached, people would need to be reminded that Sierra Leona was at war with a “vicious enemy”.
Sierra Leone has overtaken Liberia to have the highest number of Ebola cases, World Health Organization figures show.
The president said that while many districts of the country had made progress in fighting Ebola, challenges still remained in the western part of the country, which for the past two weeks had accounted for 50% of new infections.
He said that he was introducing an action plan, Operation Western Area Surge, to encourage people to come forward if they had a fever or other symptoms of Ebola.
He said it was necessary to introduce such stringent measures even though it was the festive season – a time when people would normally “celebrate with their families in a joyous manner”.
And a video report from CCTV Africa:
Ebola: Sierra Leone President bans Christmas Celebrations
Sierra Leone’s president confirmed a ban on parties and other festivities over the Christmas and New Year holidays and a “surge” to hunt for hidden Ebola patients. This as registered cases reach alarming numbers. CCTV’s Clementine Logan reports
Presidential spin from the State House Communications Unit:
CDC Chief Impressed with President Koroma
Director for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States Dr Tom Frieden has described the “Western Area Surge” as a step in the right direction, adding that President Koroma’s leadership of the national response against Ebola is very effective.
“Last time when we met I was deeply impressed by your understanding of the virus,” he told the president.
The CDC Director expressed these sentiments during a courtesy call on President Koroma at State House, Freetown where they assessed the response to the outbreak so far. After one hundred days since he last visited Sierra Leone, Dr Frieden’s visit is part of concerted efforts by CDC and other United States Government agencies and international partners to take aggressive steps to control the spreading virus.
Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma stated that the country has made tremendous progress in building its capacity to fend off the disease. “We now have an increase in treatment and holding centers, laboratory capacity has also increased and spread out across the country; a situation that has limited the movement of people from one region to the other for treatment,” he said.
The Sierra Leone Concord Times covers the youngest victims:
Street Child supports over 1,000 Ebola orphans in South-East
One of Sierra Leone’s leading child protection agencies working with Ebola orphans in the country, Street Child of Sierra Leone (SCoSL), has provided food and non-food items to some one thousand and ninety-one (1,091) children orphaned by the deadly outbreak in eight chiefdoms in Kailahun district and three chiefdoms in Kenema district respectively. The donated items include rice, cooking condiments, toiletries and mattresses.
SCoSL’s Head of Communications, Advocacy and Mini Projects, Moses Lamin Karama, told Concord Times that his organization has supported a total of 656 Ebola orphans in 194 families in eight chiefdoms – Luawa, Kissi Teng, Kissi Tongi, Kissi Kama, Upper Bambara, Mandu, Jawei and Njaluahun – in the Kailahun district, as well as 535 orphans in 45 families in the Kenema district.
Explaining about SCoSL’s Ebola orphans project, Kamara said the organisation has its own unique definition of who an orphan is, and also does things differently from the others.
And the World Bank moves to keep things clear:
World Bank Group Supports Budget Management and Fiscal Transparency as Sierra Leone Responds to the Ebola Crisis
The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$30 million grant to support the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Ebola crisis.
Today’s financing includes a US$10 million grant from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association’s (IDA)* Crisis Response Window (CRW), which is designed to help low-income IDA countries recover from severe disasters and crises.
The Emergency Economic and Fiscal Support Operation will support Sierra Leone as it seeks to bring the Ebola epidemic under control by strengthening government budget management and reducing fiscal risks heightened by the crisis.
“The advent of the Ebola virus in May 2014 and the subsequent acceleration of the outbreak in late July have put extraordinary strain on the country,” said Francis Ato Brown, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone. “This operation will benefit the people of Sierra Leone and the global community by minimizing the economic impact of the outbreak and thereby improving prospects for jobs, growth and other livelihood enhancing activities.”
And from the Sierra Leone Concord Times, a new modality:
President Koroma opens new Ebola Care Centre at Newton
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday opened a new Ebola Community Care Centre (CCC) at Newton, in the Western Rural as part of a scale up of services in the district to help stop the spread of Ebola.
“The Western Area is an Ebola hot zone,” said President Koroma. “The Community Care Centre provides an alternative to Ebola Treatment Units, where residents can seek diagnosis, isolation and early treatment in a safe and protected environment close to their homes. This is the first of two centers to be established in the district.”
Funded by DFID, UNICEF – in partnership with the government and NGOs – is constructing CCCs throughout Sierra Leone in response to the Ebola outbreak. The CCCs are small tented structures with an 8-24 bed capacity and can separate patients with dry and wet symptoms.
After the jump, on to Liberia and one complication from running an election during an outbreak, a harsh judicial critique of the election and a street bloody brawl between supporters of rival candidates [one being the president’s son], ports continue to be spared the epidemic, U.N. extends its military mission and announces a political campaign role, a day in a front line sprayer’s life, and the schools chief is eager to go. . . Continue reading