Ebola ‘world’s worst health crisis’

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Ebola outbreak is “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times”, the World Health Organisation has said.

But economic disruptions can be curbed if people are kept adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection, it added.

Director-general Margaret Chan said World Bank figures show 90% of the economic costs of any outbreak “come from irrational and disorganised efforts of the public to avoid infection”.

Staff at the global health organisation “are very well aware that fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus”, she said in a statement read to a regional health conference in the Philippine capital, Manila.

“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said.

Ms Chan added that adequately educating the public was a “good defence strategy” and would allow governments to prevent economic disruptions.

She praised the Philippines for holding an anti-Ebola summit last week, which was joined by government health officials and private sector representatives.

Ms Chan warned that the south-east Asian country was vulnerable due to the large number of Filipinos working abroad.

While bracing for Ebola, health officials should continue to focus on major health threats including non-communicable diseases, she said.

Last month, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged leaders in the most affected countries to establish special centres that aim to isolate infected people from non-infected relatives in an effort to stem the spread of Ebola.

He has also appealed for international airlines and shipping companies not to suspend services to countries affected by Ebola. He said doing so hinders delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance.

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to WHO figures published last week.

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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