Getting help to Ebola-stricken countries to cost $600 million: UN

Reuters , Wednesday 3 Sep 2014

The cost of getting supplies needed to West African countries to get the Ebola crisis under control will be at least $600 million, Dr David Nabarro, the senior United Nations Coordinator for Ebola Disease, told reporters on Wednesday.

More than 40 percent of the Ebola cases in West Africa, where the outbreak began in March, have occurred in the past 21 days, officials from the World Health Organization said, another indication that the epidemic is fast outpacing efforts to control it.

The overall fatality rate is 51 percent, ranging from a low of 41 percent in Sierra Leone to a high of 66 percent in Guinea, WHO reported.

The fatality rate reflects serious problems with case management, infection prevention and control, and inadequate medical and public health measures. In Sierra Leone, the medical capacity in Freetown is so inadequate that Ebola patients are being transferred to facilities in Kenema, which are overwhelmed.

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unrelated to and independent of the West African epidemic, WHO director-general Margaret Chan told reporters.

The U.S. government "has been a very strong supporter" of WHO's efforts in the outbreak, she added, naming countries including China, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Kuwait, and Canada as providing logistical, medical or other support.

Those efforts continue to fall short, however. Most new Ebola infections are occurring in the community as families care for patients who have no place to go and often refuse to be identified to public health workers, said Dr Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant Director-General for Health Security.

"Finding places to take care of people who are ill is absolutely essential to controlling this outbreak," Fukuda said.

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