Aid Group Calls for More Help in Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders calls global Ebola response inadequate

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a "roadmap" to guide the international response to what is now the largest Ebola outbreak in history. But Doctors Without Borders said world leaders' responses have been inadequate.

As death toll estimates break 1,900 and suspected cases surpass 3,500, international aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are fighting the outbreak on the ground in West Africa.

But MSF President Dr. Joanne Liu, in a speech to the United Nations (UN), said that, so far, outside help has come from nongovernmental organizations, and that other nations have a responsibility to help, too.

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“Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Dr. Liu said in a press release. “Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat. The WHO announcement on August 8 that epidemic constituted a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ has not led to decisive action, and states have essentially joined a global coalition of inaction."

The Ebola virus can cause the often fatal Ebola virus disease, which is responsible for the many deaths in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia. A separate strain of Ebola has broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials are working to control this smaller outbreak, said Margaret Chan, MD, WHO director-general, in a press conference at the UN.

The current outbreak is not an immediate threat to the US, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Still, it is an international health concern, according to WHO, which released a roadmap meant to guide the international response to the outbreak. The goal is to stop new Ebola cases in six to nine months by ramping up global response.

Without more help from foreign governments, however, that goal won't likely be reached, MSF noted.

“Funding announcements and the deployment of a few experts do not suffice,” Dr. Liu said. “States with the required capacity have a political and humanitarian responsibility to come forward and offer a desperately needed, concrete response to the disaster unfolding in front of the world’s eyes. Rather than limit their response to the potential arrival of an infected patient in their countries, they should take the unique opportunity to actually save lives where immediately needed, in West Africa.”

Dr. Chan said that global efforts combined with those of international aid agencies could stop the outbreak.

"Let me make it very clear, this outbreak can and will be controlled," Dr. Chan said. "We know what is needed and we know how to do it."

Review Date: 
September 5, 2014
Last Updated:
October 8, 2014