The West African government on Wednesday said that the states are unable to fight against the world’s worst Ebola outbreak due to the lack of resources. Besides the shortage of financial assistance, deep cultural suspicions about the disease is hindering the relief process and halting of its spread.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, the Ebola outbreak has taken lives of 467 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February. This is the largest and deadliest ever outbreak in West Africa.
The West African Health ministers today met in Ghana to jointly draw up a regional response mixed appeals for cash. The appeals will also be an attempt to check the ill practices that have allowed the disease to spread across borders and into cities.
Abubakarr Fofanah, deputy health minister for Sierra Leone, said that the cash was needed for drugs, basic protective gear and staff pay.
Sierra Leone is a country with one of the world’s weakest health systems.
Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s deputy health minister, said “In Liberia, our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic. Our people are very much afraid of the disease.”
“People are afraid but do not believe that the disease exists and because of that people get sick and the community members hide them and bury them, against all the norms we have put in place,” she further said.
The ministers also said that the authorities are also facing trouble in convincing the families of the Ebola victims from stopping them in giving them traditional funerals.
In the traditional funerals, the dead bodies are manual washed. Authorities say this is dangerous as washing can spread the infection. The dead are instead meant to be buried by health staff wearing protective gear, authorities said.
Meanwhile, there were also reports of threatening. According to the Red Cross in Guinea, its staff who were working on Ebola were threatened due to which it had been forced to temporarily suspend some operations in the country’s southeast.
“Locals wielding knives surrounded a marked Red Cross vehicle. The operations had been halted for safety reasons. The Red Cross later said only international staff were removed,” a Red Cross official said, asking not to be named.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a fatal disease contracted by humans and nonhuman primates like chimpanzees monkeys and gorillas. Virus Ebolavirus is responsible for causing this disease.
The first cases of Ebola were found in 1976 in Nzara (Sudan) and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The original host of the disease is unknown but researchers consider animals, mainly bats, as its source.
Experts say, the symptoms of Ebola start appearing between 2 and 21 days after initial contact. The common symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea rash poor kidney and liver function. In rare cases, patient can also experience internal and external bleeding.
There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Currently treatments and vaccines are under development but most have not been tested in humans. Patients suffering from this disease usually suffer dehydration. Hence, they are given oral or intravenous fluid containing electrolytes. Patients must be quarantined.