First some good news from Berkeley for a had-pressed Liberian newspaper via the paper in question, FrontPageAfrica:
Berkeley Professor Donates Anti-Ebola Gears, Cameras to FPA
Rachel Mercy Simpson, Department Chair of Multimedia Arts, at Berkeley City College, knew she had to step in when she heard the Publisher of FrontPageAfrica describe to NPR’s “On the Media” the challenges he and his team of reporters are going through on the front line of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
“As an award-winning newspaper, FrontPageAfrica is in a powerful position to communicate with people across West Africa, to encourage safer practices and to reduce the spread of Ebola. FPA reporters put their lives on the line to cover the stories even though they lack rudimentary safety gear. I want to help them out,” wrote Mercy-Simpson to her family and colleagues. Mercy-Simpson, who is married to a Tanzanian and whose father is from South Africa, says while neither countries are neighbors to Ebola-hit Liberia, she felt a need to reach out. “We care about what’s going on in Africa. The devastation to families and the economy in Liberia is terrible. And no one wants to see Ebola spread any further.”
When she learned from the NPR interview that FrontPageAfrica reporters lacked safety gear, Mercy-Simpson immediately contacted the FrontPageAfrica publisher and asked how she could help. “As a filmmaker, I grasped the danger of their not having a telephoto lens and how FPA reporters needed to get close to people who were very sick in order to photograph them.”
The accompanying photo:
From Deutsche Welle, numbers:
WHO releases latest Ebola figures
- The latest figures from the World Health Organization show another increase in the Ebola death toll. Nearly 6,600 people have died from the virus since the worst outbreak on record began early this year.
The latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show 6,583 people have died out of 18,188 recorded Ebola cases.
The Geneva-based UN health agency reported that the majority of infections and deaths were in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The WHO said earlier in the week that the death toll had remained the same in other countries also affected by the disease: six in Mali, one in the US and eight in Nigeria, which was declared Ebola free in October. Spain and Senegal have also counted one case of infection each, but were declared free of the virus in recent weeks.
Numbers contested, via StarAfrica:
S/Leone: Information Minister challenges WHO Ebola figures
Sierra Leone’s Information Minister said Thursday contrary to figures reported by the Western media and the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of infection by the Ebola epidemic were reducing in the country.Alhaji Alpha Kanu said, based on figures from the Ministry of Health and the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), the country was recorded an average of less than 40 new infections a day, “contrary to what you hear on BBC, courtesy of WHO,” he said.
He said what the media is reporting falls far behind the reality on the ground. “That’s patently not true,” he told reporters at the weekly government press conference.
At a separate engagement via an online press conference with the international media, Mr Kanu was cited disputing WHO`s report on the diamond-rich Kono which claimed 87 dead bodies were discovered with 123 sick people from “forgotten” part of the district.
Ebolaphobia strikes again, from AllAfrica:
Sudan Repatriates 26 Nigerians Over Ebola Fears
The Sudanese authorities have denied 26 Nigerians entry into their country over suspicion that they were possibly infected by the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, one of those repatriated has told PREMIUM TIMES.
Hauwa’u Ibrahim Bakori, a second year student of Pharmacy at Al Ahfad University for Women, Omdurman, said she and 25 others were denied entry after arriving Khartoum Airport on Wednesday.
They were detained, and then deported to Nigeria on Thursday, Ms. Bakori said.
Ms Bakori is in her second year at the Sudanese university and had travelled to Nigeria on holidays.
From teleSUR, an aid effort praised:
UNICEF Recognizes Cuban Efforts in Fight Against Ebola
- The children’s rights organisation is the latest body to highlight Cuba’s role.
The representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) regional office in Central Africa recognized Cuba’s humanitarian efforts to fight Ebola on Saturday.
Cuba has sent more than 460 doctors and nurses to nations struck by Ebola such as Sierra Leone.
‘’We are carrying out a series of gatherings with nations that offer cooperation like the case of Cuba, we want to take those countries into account for next year’s Unicef aid programming in African nations,’‘ said UNICEF’s Brigitte Helali, from Equatorial Guinea where she is evaluating Unicef aid programs.
Helali also highlighted the progress Cuba has made in healthcare overall with special mention for their work with pregnant women and children under five years old.
From the Associated Press, that same effort stymied by Washington:
US embargo stalled payment to Cuban Ebola doctors
A World Health Organization official says Cuba had to cover food and lodging expenses for dozens of its doctors fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone after the U.S. embargo made it impossible for the global health group to pay them.
U.S. officials as high as Secretary of State John Kerry have praised the Cuban effort against Ebola. But the longstanding embargo affects virtually all dealings with Cubans, even for banks outside the U.S., because they depend on dollar transfers through U.S. institutions.
Jose Luis Di Fabio, the health agency’s representative for Cuba, said it had to request special licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department to transfer money to the doctors in Africa.
The government-employed doctors only recently received payments dating as far back as October, he said.
And from teleSUR English, what those doctors are doing in the country where the need is most great:
Sierra Leone: Cuban doctors reducing Ebola cases
While new cases of Ebola continue to arise in Sierra Leone, the Cuban medical teams on the scene, working alongside local health care workers, are confident that they can continue to contain and reduce the epidemic. Close collaboration and friendships have been forged with US medical workers who admire Cuba’s role and record in providing health care to all. Oskar Epelde reports from Porto Loko
A honcho named, via AllAfrica:
West Africa: UN Chief Appoints New Envoy for Ebola
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday appointed Ismail Ahmed of Mauritania as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, UNMEER.
This was contained in a statement issued by Ban’s Spokesperson, Stephane DuJarric in New York.
According to the statement, as Special Representative, Mr. Ahmed will work closely with the Special Envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro and with the governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and other partners.
Mr. Ahmed succeeds Anthony Banbury of the U.S., who would return to New York in early January 2015.
And from the U.S. News Center, an urgent plea:
UN meeting urges critical improvements to health systems of Ebola-affected countries
The international community must help Ebola-affected countries reboot their health systems so that they emerge from the current crisis more resilient and more focused on prevention efforts than ever before, a high-level meeting coordinated by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva heard today.
“People in Ebola-affected countries are dying – not only from Ebola but also from other causes – because the majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, in a news release.
“A health system has to be able to both absorb the shock of an emergency like Ebola, and to continue to provide regular health services such as immunization and maternal and child care.”
At the meeting, participants – which included Ministers of Health and Finance from countries at the epicentre of the Ebola epidemic as well as international organizations and development partners – discussed methods of integration for health services spanning clinical care to surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention and management and palliative care.
In particular, noted the WHO news release, areas of improvement included “significantly strengthening” the health workforce; enhancing community trust, engagement and ownership; and ensuring the development of resilient sub-national health systems. In addition, the movement of people across the borders of the Ebola-affected countries spotlighted the “important” need for a greater coordination of trans-national health plans and an alignment of surveillance systems.
Another expanded effort, via Voice of America:
UNICEF Expanding Fight Against Ebola
The U.N. Children’s Fund is appealing for an additional $300 million to expand its fight against Ebola in the three heavily affected West African countries over the next six months. UNICEF said gaining the confidence of community members, increasing their awareness and knowledge of modes of transmission and prevention are key to winning the battle against this deadly disease.
UNICEF officials said money from the appeal would be used to tackle two major drivers of Ebola transmission: lack of early isolation of patients and unsafe burials. Both of these issues are wound up with traditional cultural practices, which often have stymied aid agencies’ efforts to prevent people from getting infected with the disease and spreading it to others.
Community involvement is absolutely essential to ending this epidemic. UNICEF’s crisis communications chief, Sarah Crowe, said recent surveys indicate people gradually have been changing their behavior for the better.
And from the New York Times, contesting the Ebola fight:
Contest Seeks Novel Tools For the Fight Against Ebola
The well-prepared Ebola fighter in West Africa may soon have some new options: protective gear that zips off like a wet suit, ice-cold underwear to make life inside the sweltering suits more bearable, or lotions that go on like bug spray and kill or repel the lethal virus.
Those ideas are among the contenders to win the Ebola “Grand Challenges” contest announced in October by the United States Agency for International Development, or among those being considered by the agency without having formally entered the contest.
All still need to undergo testing, and some may prove impractical, but the 1,500 contest submissions “blew the roof off the number of responses we’ve ever had,” said Wendy Taylor, director of U.S.A.I.D.’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact.
The agency’s Grand Challenges, modeled on those begun a decade ago by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have produced some nifty inventions, the best known of which is a device for helping women in obstructed labor that was invented by an Argentine auto mechanic after he saw a YouTube video on using a plastic bag to get a cork out of a wine bottle.
After the jump it’s on to Sierra Leone with doctors sounding the alarm, how a single case triggered a chain reaction of death, the U.N.’s Ebola emissary calls for an anti-epidemic surge, Freetown charges chiefs with containing the epidemic, Christmas and New Year’s gatherings banned, and the capital sends a strong anti-graft warning, then on to Liberia and the debilitating impacts of two viral epidemics on the economy, why the U.N. is maintaining a Liberian arms embargo, motorcycle transport riders join the Ebola fight, 1,300 volunteer case trackers recruited by the UN, healed patients head home, and an education system left in shambles. . . Continue reading