23 Sep 2014
The World Health Organisation is warning that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could become a public health catastrophe if not brought under control soon.
A study undertaken jointly by WHO and the Imperial College, London, estimates that up to 20,000 people in Liberia , Sierra Leone and Guinea could become infected with the Ebola virus by November this year.
The study says that unless control measures – including improvements in contact tracing, adequate case isolation, increased quality of care and capacity for clinical management, greater community engagement, and support from international partners – improve quickly, the three worst affected countries will soon be reporting thousands of cases and deaths each week.
The current outbreak in West Africa has already claimed more than 2,800 lives and infected more than 5,800 people.
Dr Christopher Dye, is the Director of Strategy for WHO.
“If we don’t do anything immediately, then the exponential growth that has been forecast will continue and we will have not a few thousand cases, but probably tens of thousands of cases. If control is complete successful in the way that we know it can be, then Ebola will disappear from the human population of West Africa. But that is the hope that that’s is the direction were are going in. thirdly is something between the two that the control efforts are partial and that Ebola virus disease in the human population becomes a permanent feature of life in west Africa and clearly we are hoping that’s not going to happen.”
The study notes that although experimental therapeutics and vaccines offer promise for the future, they are unlikely to be available in the quantities needed to make a substantial difference in control efforts for many months, even if proven to be safe and effective.
Patrick Maigua, United Nation, Geneva.