Ebola out of control in West Africa, says Medecins Sans Frontieres

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 9:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 9:48pm


The ebola epidemic in West Africa is "out of control" and will be contained only if politicians, religious leaders and aid agencies urgently improve their response to the unprecedented outbreak, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns.

The disease, which is continuing to spread through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, has claimed 350 lives, according to the World Health Organisation. Confirmed, probable or suspected cases stands at 567, with the disease identified in more than 60 locations across the three countries.

Ebola, which can kill up to 90 per cent of those who become infected, was first reported in Guinea in March.

Dr Bart Janssens, MSF's director of operations, said the charity had treated 470 patients and was struggling to cope.

"The epidemic is out of control," he said. "We have reached our limits. Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites."

MSF said that civil society and political and religious authorities were failing to recognise the scale of the epidemic, adding that prominent figures had to do more to promote the fight against the disease. In the panic, it said, key messages were not getting through and people were continuing to attend funerals where there were no infection-control measures in place.

Janssens said ebola now had to be viewed as a public health issue throughout West Africa.