Misconceptions fuel spread of Ebola in W.Africa

By admin
11 July 2014

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is unprecedented and a major threat.

Misconceptions, rumours and fears are fuelling the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, where the death toll has risen to more than 500 people, the United Nations warned Friday.

"Some people still deny that the disease is real. Others believe that it doesn't have to be treated," said Manuel Fontaine, United Nations Children's Fund regional director for West and Central Africa.

Widespread misconceptions - as well as societal resistance, denial and occasional hostility in some communities to proper treatment - are considerably complicating the humanitarian response to contain the outbreak.

The spread of Ebola is aided by some cultural practices and traditional beliefs - for example, bathing and touching dead bodies to say farewell - as well as scepticism towards some Western medical practices, especially towards staff wearing protective gear.

The World Health Organisation reported more than 850 Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, calling the outbreak "a major regional threat, unprecedented in duration and in scale."

Liberia this week reported one new Ebola death, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 81.

The country also confirmed two new suspected cases, bringing that total number to 143. "The situation is still volatile and requires community, religious and traditional leaders' support," said assistant health minister for preventive services Tolbert Nyensuah. However, the Health Ministry said it reintegrated 10 people cured of Ebola into their communities after 21 days quarantine.

The West African economic community Ecowas meanwhile launched a solidarity fund to fight the virus.

Nigeria donated 3.5 million dollars to the fund, which was announced at an Ecowas summit in Ghana on Thursday. Other countries in the region as well as international donors are also expected to contribute.

Ebola, which causes massive haemorrhages and has a fatality rate of 90 per cent, is one of the most contagious viral diseases.

There is at present no specific treatment or vaccine for the disease.

The virus is transmitted through blood and other body fluids.

- SAPA

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