Thanks to Margot Lochrenberg for sending the link to this long, important, and angry report from MSF UK: Ebola: international response to Ebola epidemic dangerously inadequate. Excerpt (but read the whole thing):
Disaster experts needed
Providing funds is not enough. Available infectious disease experts and disaster relief specialists from countries with these capacities must deploy teams to the affected countries.
In addition to a larger deployment of medical and epidemiological specialists, the emergency response immediately needs:
• Additional laboratory capacity for Ebola testing
• Ambulances and helicopters to safely transport samples and suspected cases
• Supplies to ensure safe burials
International non-governmental organisations must also step up their efforts in region.
Humanitarian agencies reaching limits
Emergency teams from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are continuing all efforts to fight the Ebola epidemic.
Tackling the outbreak since March, we currently have 692 staff in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia treating a rapidly increasing number of patients.
Our top priority is infected patients and we have already deployed all our experienced staff.
The countries most affected are trying to rebuild after years of civil war; they already struggle to meet the basic health needs of their people, let alone deal with an emergency of this complexity and magnitude.
Sierra Leone and Liberia have just 0.2 and 0.1 doctors per 10,000 people respectively (compared to the average 2.6 in West Africa and 240 times that number in the United States).
In Liberia and Sierra Leone, many health facilities are closed or empty. People are not seeking care for regular illnesses for fear of being infected with Ebola.
Some health workers have been infected or have died. Many are therefore too afraid to come to work. The epidemic is further straining weak health systems already trying to cope with existing health crises like malaria and maternal mortality.
Strain on the health system
The WHO needs to coordinate and push for extra support to general health workers so hospitals and health centres can remain open to treat the usual high disease burden in these countries.
If the health system starts to shut down in these countries mortality levels from other diseases and conditions may rise astronomically and will become a terrible indirect effect of this Ebola epidemic.
Many of the patients who have died are between 30 and 45 years old.
There are villages in Kailahun in Sierra Leone, for example, which have lost the majority of the adult members of the community, leaving many orphaned children and elderly people.
In some villages there is hardly anybody left to cultivate the fields or provide for the families.
In Liberia’s capital Monrovia, the situation is catastrophic and is deteriorating on a daily basis.
At one point last week, all five of the main hospitals in Monrovia were closed. Some have since reopened but are barely functioning.
There has been no improvement in the coordination of the response. Hospitals and almost all health centres in the city of one million remain closed.
The number of dead is outstripping the capacity for health officials to manage their safe burial, and more and more health workers have been infected with Ebola over recent weeks.
There is a dire need for the WHO, countries, and other international organisations to mobilise to support the Liberian Ministry of Health.