Will the Ebola Regional Fund solve the Problem?

Ebola pictureBy Michael Ocilaje
The success in control of Ebola outbreak in Africa will depend on African countries summoning up the necessary political will.
According to Dr Didier Mbayi Kangudie attending the two-day conference accused the world’s biggest research institutes of failing to invest sufficiently in a vaccine for Ebola because it has largely affected only countries within Africa.
According to Anja Wolz of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), a major problem is that many people “are denying that Ebola exists.” People who fell sick were hiding rather than go to a doctor and could infect others.
There was still a great need for public awareness campaigns, she said, as many Africans “think the white people are bringing Ebola.” MSF staff were working hard to overcome this but they could not go to every single village, Wolz said, addding that the problem was the same in Liberia and Guinea.
However, in an interview with DW, Anja Wolz of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the situation in Sierra Leone was still a matter of great concern. In the last two days, another 30 patients had been taken in at the treatment center where she works, she said.
Sierra Leone’s deputy minister for health, Dr Aboubakari Fofanah, said some of the recommendations made were already being implemented in his country. The surveillance system including finding and reporting cases, with contact tracing andmonitoring,” he said, adding that restrictions had been placed on public gatherings and schools closed in affected areas.
The Accra meeting, which was convened by the World Health Organization, also identified the need for public awareness campaigns as a major priority.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, called for urgent, collective cross-border and multi-sectoral concrete actions to bring an end to the on-going Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
This was disclosed in a statement by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Luis Sambo, in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the statement, Mr. Sambo made the call at the opening session of the Emergency Ministerial meeting on Ebola Virus Disease in Accra.
He urged ministers of health of the affected countries to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to contain the outbreak.
“Your leadership is critical in ensuring that preventive and containment measures are effectively implemented in your countries. To this end, I would like to stress the need to redeploy human resources and reallocate funds to facilitate operations in affected communities,” Mr. Sambo said.
He said the continuing spread of the Ebola virus was largely associated with some cultural practices and beliefs which were contrary to recommended public health preventive measures.
The director said that in addition, the extensive movement of people within and across borders had facilitated a rapid spread of the infection across and within three countries.
He underscored the need to inform, involve, and engage community, religious and opinion leaders to be at the forefront of the response efforts.
Mr. Sambo also called for improved communication between governments, partners and communities in order to generate reliable evidence for the implementation of effective and relevant actions. He urged the research community to address the research gap on Ebola disease prevention and control.
Mr. Sambo appealed to President John Mahama, as current President of ECOWAS, to mobilise financial resources to support communities and countries affected by the Ebola virus disease.
The statement credited Sherry Ayittey, the Minister of Health of Ghana, as saying, “We are here to make a real difference, a difference that will be felt beyond this room for millions of people in dire need for solutions. We have a small window of opportunity to prevent the outbreak of Ebola from spreading further.”
The Ebola virus first struck human beings in 1976 in Yambuku, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo along River Ebola.
Since then, more than 20 Ebola outbreaks have occurred mainly in East and Central African countries.
The emergency meeting on Ebola held in Ghana has ended with a resolution to set up a fund to support research into the disease which has claimed more than 460 lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The health ministers and experts who gathered in Accra agreed to establish a fund pool to which member countries of the West African sub-region would contribute and from which they would benefit in common efforts to fight the Ebola virus.
They have also agreed to improve coordination across the region with a view to containing and preventing the spread of the disease. They also recommended measures aimed at persuading citizens to abandon certain cultural practices that encourage the spread of Ebola.

The director general of Ghana’s health service, Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, said the new fund would be crucial and appealed for international support.
Transmission
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.
Among workers in contact with monkeys or pigs infected with Reston ebolavirus, several infections have been documented in people who were clinically asymptomatic. Thus, RESTV appears less capable of causing disease in humans than other Ebola species.
However, the only available evidence available comes from healthy adult males. It would be premature to extrapolate the health effects of the virus to all population groups, such as immuno-compromised persons, persons with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women and children. More studies of RESTV are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn about the pathogenicity and virulence of this virus in humans.

Because the natural reservoir of these viruses (there are several species) lives in certain regions in Africa. However, nobody really knows that reservoir yet. Recently bats have become the prime suspect.
A natural reservoir is an organism that carries a virus (or other pathogen) without being immediately affected by it.
Further, Ebola has not yet evolved to survive long in humans. It kills us too quickly (unlike e.g. the common cold) and thus to some extent stops its own spreading naturally (and due to the severity of the infection, strict quarantine is enforced as soon as the virus shows up).
According to analyst, there’s not necessarily a link between evolution and the severity of an outbreak, but there is a definite link between diseases and the presence of domesticatable animals. In particular, the Eurasian continent had many more (cattle, sheep, chickens, horses, etc. than either Australia or the Americas. Thus, historically speaking, this lead to people of the “old world” having immune systems that protected against a larger range of diseases than those of other continents. Hence, when the Age of Exploration rolled around, the Europeans were able to give transmit smallpox to deadly results whilst the people they contacted had no equivalent diseases to reciprocate.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
Genus Ebolavirus is 1 of 3 members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus), along with genus Marburgvirus and genus Cuevavirus. Genus Ebolavirus comprises 5 distinct species:
• Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
• Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
• Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)
• Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
• Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV).
BDBV, EBOV, and SUDV have been associated with large EVD outbreaks in Africa, whereas RESTV and TAFV have not. The RESTV species, found in Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, can infect humans, but no illness or death in humans from this species has been reported to date.
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