October 2014 – HEALTH – Leading global health experts did not anticipate the scale of the Ebola outbreak, a senior health official has told the BBC. Chris Dye from the World Health Organization (WHO) said the international response was helping but needed to continue. Ebola is now entrenched in the capitals of the worst-affected states – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, WHO says. The outbreak has killed more than 3,860 people, mainly in West Africa. More than 200 health workers are among the victims. Mr. Dye said that that although no-one was in a position to anticipate the scale of the current outbreak; the important thing was to look forward. “We’ve asked for a response of about $1bn (£618m); so far we have around $300m (£185m) with more being pledged, so a bit less than half of what we need but it’s climbing quickly all the time,” he said. In April, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned of the potential spread of the virus, but the WHO played down the claims, saying that Ebola was neither an epidemic, nor was it unprecedented. On Friday MSF reported a sharp increase of Ebola cases in the Guinean capital, Conakry, dashing hopes that the disease was being stabilized there. Meanwhile in Mali, an experimental serum is being tested on volunteer health workers.
The trial spans several countries, and the results will be sent to experts to determine whether it is able to protect against Ebola. Meanwhile in Spain, seven more people are being monitored in hospital for Ebola. They include two hairdressers who came into contact with Teresa Romero, a Madrid nurse who looked after an Ebola patient who had been repatriated from West Africa. Ms Romero is now reported to be gravely ill but stable. Nigeria’s military has now confirmed that more than 1,300 Nigerian peacekeeping troops have been quarantined in Liberia after coming into contact with a Sudanese man who later died of the disease. It had earlier denied such reports. –BBC
Treatment centers full- stay at home: Acknowledging a major “defeat” in the fight against Ebola, international health officials battling the epidemic in Sierra Leone approved plans on Friday to help families treat patients at home, recognizing that they are overwhelmed and have little chance of getting enough treatment beds in place quickly to meet the surging need. The decision signifies a significant shift in the struggle against the rampaging disease. Officials said they would begin distributing painkillers, rehydrating solution and gloves to hundreds of Ebola-afflicted households in Sierra Leone, contending that the aid arriving here was not fast or extensive enough to keep up with an outbreak that doubles in size every month or so. “It’s basically admitting defeat,” said Peter H. Kilmarx, the leader of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s team in Sierra Leone, adding that it was “now national policy that we should take care of these people at home.” “For the clinicians it’s admitting failure, but we are responding to the need,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “There are hundreds of people with Ebola that we are not able to bring into a facility.”
The effort to prop up a family’s attempts to care for ailing relatives at home does not mean that officials have abandoned plans to increase the number of beds in hospitals and clinics. But before the beds can be added and doctors can be trained, experts warn, the epidemic will continue to grow. C.D.C. officials acknowledged that the risks of dying from the disease and passing it to loved ones at home were serious under the new policy — “You push some Tylenol to them, and back away,” Mr. Kilmarx said, describing it’s obvious limits. But many patients with Ebola are already dying slowly at home, untreated and with no place to go. So officials said there was little choice but to try the new approach as well. “For the first time, the nation is accepting the possibility of home care, out of necessity,” said Jonathan Mermin, another C.D.C. official and physician here. “It is a policy out of necessity.” –NY Times