WACSOF, deepening regional integration and fostering stability and development in West Africa

EBOLA: Can It Be Contained

 The world's worst ever epidemic (Ebola Virus Disease) has infected and killed thousands of people since it erupted in March in West Africa, a region grappling with poverty and poor health care.

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O), a total of 14,098 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal). W.H.O also noted that there have been 5,160 reported deaths.

The Organization said transmission remains intense in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the case incidence is still increasing in Sierra Leone.

Recently, Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that she would not seek an extension to a state of emergency imposed in August over Ebola. This announcement might be a sign of headway in the fight against Ebola in the country. She further stated that Liberia cannot be declared Ebola free until neighboring countries are also Ebola free, noting that they cannot let down their guard nor reduce vigilance.

Following the rate at which this virus keeps spreading, one may begin to wonder if it can actually be contained in West Africa. Therefore, it is paramount for different health institutions and other concerned bodies to join hands in the fight against this scourge.

Last month in Mali, an Imam from Guniea died at a private hospital in Bomako. The man was said to have been diagnosed of kidney failure, but last week a nurse who treated him died of Ebola, and two more persons – one of which is a doctor, and they have all tested positive for the virus. It was also reported that the body of the Imam was sent to a mosque for ritual cleansing, then returned to Guinea for a large public funeral before authorities in Mali realized he probably died of Ebola.

A potential cluster of unidentified Ebola victims is in the process of developing as a result of the Imam’s death in this private hospital. The question now is, how many people came in contact with the corps and also how many people have they in turn contacted.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Frieden said the risk of this cluster turning into a major outbreak is high. Prior to this cluster, Mali had only one Ebola case: a 2-year-old girl from Guinea who died on Oct. 24.

WACSOF therefore calls on the U.N, the World Health Organization, the ECOWAS Commission, the government of Mali and the Civil Societies to take immediate action to keep Mali from descending into the Ebola chaos that has hit neighboring Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

We also urge those in Mali that have been in contact with the late Imam, or those around him, to quickly submit themselves for check. The whole of West Africa must put heads together to war against this deadly disease.


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