Liberia president describes heavy cost of Ebola

2014-10-20 11:43
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (AFP, File

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (AFP, File

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Monrovia - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Ebola has killed more than 2 000 people in her country and has brought it to "a standstill," noting that Liberia and two other badly hit countries were already weakened by years of war.

Appealing for more international help, Sirleaf described the devastating effects of Ebola in a "Letter to the World" that was broadcast on Sunday by the BBC.

"Across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed," the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said.

"The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced."

In neighbouring Sierra Leone, emergency food rations were distributed for a third day Sunday to give a nutritional lifeline to 260 000 residents of an Ebola-stricken community on the outskirts of the capital, Freetown.

Food supplies

The Waterloo area has 350 houses under quarantine with people suspected of having the Ebola virus and infections in the district are rising, according to the UN World Food Programme. Packets with food for 30 days were delivered to the quarantined homes and to Ebola patients at treatment centres.

The rest of Waterloo's residents went to 60 distribution centres to receive the food supplies. The mass distribution, which started on Friday, for the most part went smoothly but was disrupted at two of the 60 distribution points by people pressing to get the food, said Gon Myers, WFP director in Sierra Leone.

The emergency food deliveries came as the international community ramps up its response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which continues to spread.

The total death toll has risen to more than 4 500 people from the 9 000 infected, according to the World Health Organisation.

Although Senegal has been declared free of Ebola and Nigeria is expected to get the all clear, the epidemic remains out of control in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. WHO warns that by December there could be as many as 10 000 new infections per week.

Fourteen other West African countries have been identified as at risk and steps are being taken to prepare them, said Isabelle Nuttall, director of WHO's global capacities.

Medical supplies

The United Nations has established a regional headquarters for the response to Ebola in Accra, Ghana.

The director of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan was scheduled to attend a meeting in Ghana but did not make any public appearances, cancelling a scheduled press conference Saturday.

Chan and WHO have come under scrutiny following an internal document obtained by The Associated Press which said the UN health organisation did not respond adequately to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Sirleaf noted that the three hard-hit countries were already in bad shape when the first-ever outbreak of Ebola in West Africa began.

"There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars," Liberia's leader said, adding that Liberia once had 3 000 medical doctors but by the end of its civil war, which ended 11 years ago, the country had just 36.

"This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help, whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise ... It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defense," Sirleaf said.

Unnecessary deaths

Showing the commitment of dedicated health workers, a British nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone returned to the country Sunday after treatment in London.

William Pooley is due to start work on Monday at an Ebola isolation unit in Freetown, said King's Health Partners, a project involving academics and medical staff.

Pooley, 29, was flown to Britain in August and cared for in a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital, where he received the experimental drug ZMapp.

In a statement, he thanked everyone responsible for his care and added that "the real emergency is in West Africa, and the teams out there need all the support we can give them".

Pooley said: "I am now looking forward to getting back out there and doing all I can to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as possible."

Read more on:    ellen johnson sirleaf  |  liberia  |  ebola  |  health  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.