We begin with a video from the United Nations with a photographer dispatched to document the outbreak:
UN through the lens: Photographing Ebola – the ‘invisible enemy’
United Nations – The enemy was invisible—that’s how United Nations photographer Martine Perret described Ebola, the deadly virus which has killed nearly 9,000 people in West Africa.
Last December, she joined the UN’s first health mission, UNMEER, to document the effects of the outbreak on millions of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as the international response to fight it.
In the following audio slide show, she shares her experience.
Next, the latest numbers, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
From Associated Press, a call:
Leaders to UN: We need better crisis response after Ebola
A trio of world leaders says the devastating Ebola outbreak exposed the “weakness” of international crisis response and is seeking a solution.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Ghanaian President John Mahama have asked the U.N. secretary-general to create a high-level panel and commission a report on how the world can be faster and more coordinated in the face of disaster.
The letter, handed over to Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, notes that Ebola cases have been dropping in all three of the worst-hit countries but says, “We cannot be complacent.”
The Washington Post covers a complication:
The search for an Ebola cure is gearing up — but there may be too few patients
The race to find a cure for Ebola is heating up, with scientists launching experiments in West Africa that are among the most ambitious ever aimed at taming the devastating disease.
But they are encountering an unexpected challenge: finding enough Ebola patients as the outbreak recedes.
In Liberia, researchers had to scrap a clinical drug trial at the end of January because of a lack of Ebola patients. Another trial there, using donations of blood plasma, has struggled to enroll enough participants. Its organizers may be forced to move it to Sierra Leone.
From Science, another complication:
‘Positive’ results for Ebola drug upsets plans for trials
Even the researchers whose trial of a potential drug for Ebola made headlines last week worked hard to downplay the glimmer of efficacy it showed. “It is a weak signal in a nonrandomized trial,” Yves Levy, director of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris told Science about the data, which INSERM has not released. Weak or not, the report in The New York Times that favipiravir, a Japanese flu drug, had halved mortality in one group of Ebola patients in Guinea was one more piece of good news that is complicating prospects for trials of other Ebola drugs.
The Guinean government has already announced it wants to make favipiravir available to more people, and if the results hold up to greater scrutiny, they could force a change in the design of other clinical trials going forward. Meanwhile, the decline in new cases has investigators revamping or even canceling trials at a time when manufacturers finally have enough supplies to test some of the most promising experimental drugs. The toll of the outbreak ticked up last week, as Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—the three most affected countries—counted 124 confirmed cases, up from 99 cases the week before. As the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Bruce Aylward said at a press conference on 5 February: “The virus has told us this week, loud and clear, ‘I am not going to go away the way you’re expecting me to.’ “ Yet the numbers represent a sharp drop from the height of the epidemic in September when there were more than 700 cases reported in a single week in West Africa.
CCTV America covers deserved recognition:
Cuban doctors and nurses under consideration for Nobel Peace Prize
In Cuba, the doctors and nurses who went to West Africa to combat the Ebola outbreak are being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported this story from Havana.
From AllAfrica, another contribution:
West Africa: China Trains Over 10,000 Ebola Medical Staff for West Africa
Chinese medical experts dispatched to West Africa have trained 10,202 local staff to treat Ebola patients, the Health News, a newspaper affiliated with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), reported Friday.
China has sent 64 Ebola specialists to West Africa since Nov. 9, 2014. They have trained 5,093 doctors, nurses and community health workers for Sierra Leone; 1,823 for Liberia; 1,481 for the Republic of Guinea; and 1,805 for six other countries in the region including Senegal.
The mission was China’s first overseas health training program, allowing China to passed on knowledge and experience gained from dealing with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the Health News.
And from the Associated Press, contributors returning home:
US withdrawing most troops fighting Ebola in West Africa
The United States is preparing to withdraw nearly all of its troops fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House said Tuesday, as the global health crisis recedes amid a sharp decline in Ebola cases.
Of the 2,800 troops the U.S. deployed, just 100 will remain in West Africa after April 30, officials said. About 1,500 of those troops have already returned home. Those staying in West Africa will work with Liberia’s military, regional partners and U.S. civilians to continue fighting Ebola.
“Just 10 months since the first U.S. government personnel deployed, we have delivered extraordinary results,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, adding that Ebola cases were down 80 percent and that in hard-hit Liberia, new cases have dwindled to just one or two per day.
On to the hot zone, starting in Guinea with the Thomson Reuters Foundation:
Mistrust and machetes thwart efforts to contain Ebola in Guinea
When Red Cross pickups crawl through the streets of the Guinean town of Lola in search of Ebola victims, crowds of women gather to shoo the medical workers away, young boys throw stones and angry men reach for their machetes.
In the country where West Africa’s Ebola outbreak began, hostility towards aid workers – fuelled by ever more far-fetched rumours – is undermining efforts to contain the deadly virus.
“People tell us if we don’t leave they’ll beat us up, or smash up the car,” said Paquile Zoglelemou, head of the Red Cross in Lola, a town set in thick, tropical jungle in the deep southeast of Guinea near the Liberian border.
Concerns about violence directed at aid teams comes as the number of new cases of Ebola rose at the start of February in all three of West Africa’s worst-hit countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – ending previously encouraging declines.
Thence on to Liberia with StarAfrica, and volunteers aplenty:
Liberians rush for Ebola Vaccine
Reports say Liberians are queuing daily to get vaccinated with an estimated 456 persons vaccinated since the trial began. According Co-investigator Dr. Stephen Kennedy, the figure is by far greater than anticipated at this stage of the trial.
He said the trial which is currently taking place at the state-run Redemption Hospital in the western Monrovia suburb of the Borough of Kru Town is recording more than the anticipated one participant per day.
The paper also quotes Co-Investigator Kennedy as disclosing that last week 108 persons were vaccinated, while another batch of 348 had booked tickets to be vaccinated.
FrontPageAfrica raises an ethical question:
Volunteer for Hire? US$40 for Ebola Vaccine Trials in Liberia
The current Ebola vaccines being tested in Liberia continues to raise contention among many Liberians. The latest news about the process of getting the vaccines is that Liberians who volunteer to take the trial are being paid to do so. Due to this information about the money attached to the administration of the trial vaccines, many people from poor communities have turned out to take it with the hope that they might get some compensation for their service.
In the small community of Zimbabwe and Popo Beach in New Kru Town, many young people without a job have volunteered to take the vaccine because of the inducement it offers. Though some say that they’re taking the vaccine based on a strong conviction to join the Ebola response, the community’s perception is fixed already.
“The government has to be in the interest of the citizens, they just can’t take a vaccine and bring it here for trial without informing the people on what it is about,” said Prince Kamara, a resident of the Popo Beach area who seems convinced that the trial vaccine was not made for humans and the information dissemination surrounding it was poor. “Is the government aware of the people coming to kill us Liberians? We are not animals; the people should test this vaccine where they made it.”
Other residents of the New Kru Town area where the vaccines are being tried among volunteers think that no one should be paid to take a vaccine if the administrators are sure that it poses no risk to those who take them.
After the jump, a video survivor account, back to school time, border communities on alert, and aid in the microcosm, on to Sierra Leone and prophylactic resistance, allegations of major Ebola payroll fraud, the ghostwriters in the sty, financial answers promised, a reminder that justice delayed is justice denied, even in the time of Ebola, and major questions over victim counts. . . Continue reading