Reuters reports as of June 26 Thursday (Ebola outbreak: Drastic action needed to halt worst outbreak) that the outbreak originating in Guinea has now crossed into more countries forcing the World Health Organization to take action to halt the deadly epidemic. While the efforts of national health authorities and international aid organizations have tried to contain the spread of the virus, the WHO has found that the virus has infected 635 people including 399 deaths since February in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This crisis has become the deadliest outbreak since Ebola emerged on the scene in central Africa in 1976 and the numbers continue to rise. The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Luis Sambo, in a statement explained: “This is no longer a country specific outbreak but a sub-regional crisis that requires firm action by governments and partners…WHO is gravely concerned by the on-going cross-border transmission into neighboring countries as well as the potential for further international spread.” As a result, the WHO will convene a special meeting of health ministers from 11 countries in Accra, Ghana on July 2 and 3 to discuss and plan a comprehensive inter-country response plan, Reuters reports.
Ebola has not been previously found in the West Africa region leading many people to blame health facilities for importing and spreading the virus which has no vaccine or cure and carries a 90 percent fatality rate. The virus symptoms include raging fever, headache, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and weakness with more severe phases including vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and eternal hemorrhaging. Sambo said, “There is an urgent need to intensify response efforts; to promote cross-border collaboration and information sharing of suspected cases and contacts…and to mobilise all sectors of the community. This is the only way that the outbreak will be effectively addressed.” Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated this week that a lack of understanding of the virus has lead to people continuing to prepare corpses and attend funeral of victims which allows the transmission through bodily fluids and touch. MSF accuses civil society groups, governments and religious authorities of failing to understand the scale of the epidemic leading to a delayed reaction in addressing how to fight the disease.