By Tanvi Acharya, Associate Editor for USDR
With Ebola claiming more and more victims everyday, Dr. Unni Krishnan Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response, Plan International has issued a statement calling out to the global community to work together against it.
“The deadly disease has killed more than 960 people so far in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria,” Krishnan said. “Suspected case or cases under medical care are now in Africa, Europe, and North America.”
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria have declared Ebola as national emergencies. The military has been deployed in an attempt to quarantine people and stop their movements and therefore the spread of the disease to new areas, he said.
Emphasizing on collective effort, Krishnan talks about the need for countries to focus on healthcare systems and disaster preparedness.
“This is a decisive moment in the battle against Ebola. Time is running out fast, millions of lives are at stake and the world needs to act now,” he said. “Investing in public health systems and disaster preparedness measures is the best way to invent the future trajectory of the Ebola outbreak.”
In his statement, Krishnan explains what makes Ebola so threatening.
Ebola is one of the world’s most virulent diseases and it spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, he said.
Initial symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. Such common symptoms make it hard to detect Ebola easily. There is no vaccine or cure and Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, Krishnan explained.
Complementary care such as re-hydration can help to save lives in some instances. Stopping the spread, through public health promotion and better awareness, is the best way to reduce infection rates and reduce deaths, according to him.
“The current outbreak is an unprecedented crisis with global dimensions – it is both the longest and largest outbreak in terms of deaths, infected cases, and the number of countries affected,” said Krishnan. ”Turning the tide of this deadly disease is now the collective responsibility of the world.”
The outbreak is not showing any signs of slowing down and thus it is not an easy moment to predict its future, he said.
Krishnan urged the governments of the world in his statement to invent the future of the outbreak as the next best course of action and detailed the steps to be taken.
- 1) Intensify care and support (including emotional care) for infected people, their families, health workers, and caregivers through additional isolation care and support units across the impacted countries.
- 2) Reach out to the most vulnerable people such as children and women who are often in far-flung remote pockets. This must be addressed with the utmost seriousness – through setting up better health care facilities and public health communication.
- 3) It is time to shift gears and step up surveillance and public health promotion in the other seven countries that are on alert (Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger). Act now to stop Ebola reaching these countries.
- 4) Rich nations and emerging economies need to be generous and deploy all possible resources to intensify the battle against Ebola. It is in the best interest of the whole world to intensify the battle against Ebola and stop its spread.
Krishnan called this outbreak as a wake-up call to build strong public health systems and improve epidemic preparedness measures.
“Well prepared health workers can fight not just the Ebola outbreak, but other epidemics and disasters too,” he said. “Investing in public health systems and disaster preparedness measures is the best way to invent the future trajectory of the Ebola outbreak,”
SOURCE Plan International