Category Archives: West Africa

West Africa – vital ebola aid arrives

BBC

BBC News – Ebola crisis: Worst-hit African nations get key supplies

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Sierra Leone's Red Cross employees are disinfected near Freetown. Photo: 20 October 2014Red Cross workers are among those fighting the outbreak in Sierra Leone

Vital supplies and resources to tackle Ebola are beginning to arrive in the three worst-hit West African countries, Ghana’s President John Mahama has said.

Mr Mahama, who heads the regional bloc Ecowas, also told the BBC that treatment centres were being set up in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

But he called for proper co-ordination between agencies to avoid duplication.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people, almost all of them in those three countries.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died.

Meanwhile, Nigeria was declared free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

Last week, Senegal was declared virus-free.

In other developments:

  • The United Nations said one of its workers in Sierra Leone had died from the disease, becoming the third UN victim
  • US health officials said 43 people closely monitored after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear after 21 days
  • Stricter guidelines have been issued for protecting US healthcare workers
  • The Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had now tested negative for the virus
  • Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s son, physician James Adama Sirleaf, has decided to stay in the US, saying he could do more for his country there than at home, the Wall Street Journal reports.

‘Closing gaps’Mr Mahama told the BBC that the World Food Programme was airlifting humanitarian aid to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“It must be a balance of things, closing all the gaps that exist and make sure that optimally the resources are going towards containing the disease,” the Ghanaian president added.

Mr Mahama said he had convened an Ecowas summit in November to co-ordinate the international response.

He said other West African nations needed to learn lessons from Nigeria.

‘Good idea’Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to Ebola.

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanise the EU’s response to the epidemic.

“My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea,” he said.

“The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it’s a very important step.”

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing for that amount to be doubled.

The money is being sought to help reinforce overstretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

line

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Ebola basics

How Ebola attacks

What virus has hit – in maps

Uncertainty over figures

line

‘No goggles’Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced stringent new guidelines for healthcare personnel who may be dealing with Ebola patients.

It said employees must be repeatedly trained in the use of protective equipment, demonstrating competency in putting on and taking off such clothing.

No skin should be exposed, the CDC said, and the gear should include gloves, a waterproof gown or coveralls, a respirator, a face shield and a disposable hood.

“Goggles are no longer recommended as they may not provide complete skin coverage in comparison to a single use disposable full face shield,” it said.

It added that a trained observer must be present to watch every step of the process of putting on and taking off the protective equipment.

How Ebola spreads
line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

How Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

BBC

Nigeria – fate of Chibok girls uncertain

DW/allAfrica

Fresh violence in northern Nigeria has dashed hopes of a ceasefire with the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram. Nigerians are doubtful whether the Chibok girls, kidnapped six months ago, will be released.

“Hope Rising” reads the slogan on the T-shirt of a Chibok girls’ activist. Every weekend a group of protestors gather in Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos to call for the release of the kidnapped girls. On Friday (17.10.2014), Nigeria’s armed forces chief, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, announced a ceasefire with Boko Haram, which purportedly included the release of 219 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok.

But Boko Haram hasn’t confirmed the truce and the protestors find it difficult to believe that the girls’ release is imminent.

“The Nigerian government has not been too credible in the past,” said Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, activist and founder of the Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations. “We hope they are saying something that is correct and that will happen. We are crossing our fingers, but until we see the girls we will not believe anything,” she added.

Fresh wave of violence

Events on Sunday (19.10.2014) displayed all too clearly why such skepticism is justified. Boko Haram captured another town in the state of Borno killing numerous villagers. Local media reported the Nigerian armed forces were engaged in combat operations over the weekend, even though the chief of staff had ordered his troops to abide by a ceasefire.

“The Nigerian government continued to contradict itself,” said political scientist Abubakar Umar Kari.”Today it will talk about dialogue, tomorrow it will say it will destroy the sect, or that the sect does not exists at all,” he told DW. After the girls were seized six months ago, government spokesmen could be heard denying that the kidnappings had taken place. Later they claimed that the army had liberated the girls. Denials had to be issued on both counts.

Boko Haram fragmented

According to the Nigerian daily “The Punch,” Boko Haram has split into two wings – one is radical and uncompromising wing and and the other is prepared to negotiate. According to the paper, the deal was only struck with the group that was willing to talk. This would suggest that a genuine ceasefire deal is still a long way off. Boko Haram has been regarded an extremely fragmented militia for some time. The Nigerian military has announced several times that Abubakar Shekau was dead, yet he keeps on popping up in videos.

Trying to be optimistic

One of President Jonathan’s close advisors, Hassan Tukur, told DW that no conditions were attached to the ceasefire! Boko Haram had released 27 hostages in Cameroon last week as promised, he said. After previous talks with Boko Haram had ended in deadlock, the militia was therefore showing a measure of good will, he addded. He hoped that an end to the crisis was not far away.

In spite of their suspicion of the Nigerian government, the protestors are also trying to keep their hopes up. Mindia Chiwar, a Chibok lawyer who represents parents of the missing girls and also takes part in the Lagos protests, said confidence was starting to return among friends and family members.”They have been having hopes since day one and these hopes are still alive. We remain faithful,” he said.  allAfrica

Nigeria declared free of ebola

BBC

Ebola crisis: Nigeria declared free of virus

Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, said it was a “spectacular success story”.

Nigeria won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died in those countries.

The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to the threat posed by Ebola.

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanise the EU’s response to the epidemic.

“My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea. The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it’s a very important step.”

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing to double that amount.

The money is being sought to help reinforce over-stretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

Earlier, the Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had tested negative for the virus.

line

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months
line

The result suggests Teresa Romero, 44, is no longer infected although a second test is required before she can be declared free of Ebola.

Ms Romero contracted the virus when treating two infected patients in a Madrid hospital.

Javier Limon, Teresa Romero’s husband: “I am very happy”

In another development, US health officials said 43 people being closely monitored after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear.

They were subject to twice-daily monitoring during the 21-day incubation period.

However, others who cared for Mr Duncan remain at risk including two nurses he infected and their close contacts. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said 120 people were still being monitored, with their waiting period due to end on 7 November.

Nigeria praised

The WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases. The last reported case in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – was discovered on 5 September.

“The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated,” WHO Nigerian representative Rui Gama Vaz said on Monday.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”

The outbreak there began when Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian citizen, was diagnosed with the illness in July.

How Ebola spreads

Nigeria declared a national public health emergency and Mr Sawyer later died of the disease, followed by seven Nigerians.

These included Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, who diagnosed Mr Sawyer and is credited with helping to contain the outbreak at its source.

Dr Adadevoh’s son, Bankole Cardoso, told the BBC that because Mr Sawyer had been so quickly diagnosed, Nigeria was able to trace all those who could possibly have contracted the disease from him.

“That was probably the difference between us and our West African neighbours,” he said.

John Vertefeuille, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that Nigeria had taken the right steps to contain the outbreak.

“Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale,” he told AFP news agency.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who chairs the African Union Commission, told the BBC that countries affected by Ebola would have to deal with the consequences for years to come.

“A lot of things are almost at a standstill. They are not going to be producing as much food as they would have produced, they are diverting some of the money for education to other things to stamp out the epidemic,” she said.

line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

How Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

BBC

Nigeria – Boko Haram split as peace talks continue

Punch

Peace talks split Boko Haram into two groups

 

Members of Boko Haram sect

Following the ceasefire deal the Federal Government entered into with Boko Haram, the violent fundamentalist sect has split into two. While one faction wants peace, the other doesn’t.

It was gathered on Sunday that the Federal Government might have entered into the ceasefire with the faction interested in the cessation of hostilities in the North-East.

A reliable source in government told The PUNCH in Abuja that the leaders of the pro-peace faction of the sect , were the ones who took part in the negotiations with representatives of the Chadian, Cameroonian and Federal Government in Ndjamena, Chad last week.

Federal Government and Boko Haram representatives are expected to fine tune the details of the ceasefire at another   meeting in Ndjamena on Tuesday.

Our source said he believed that the attacks on Shafa in Borno State and Sina, Adamawa State on Friday, could have been carried out by the faction not be interested in ending the violence.

He said “The Boko Haram faction that carried out the attack is the one that wants the insurgency to continue. It is made up of   hardcore elements who believe their goal of imposing Sharia on the whole country has not been achieved and for them, the violence must continue until they win the war or perish in their quest.”

There had been reports of disagreements among the top members of the sect following the clamour by some of its commanders for an end to the insurgency.

A yet to be verified report had said that unknown sect members died a few weeks ago in a shoot-out between the pro-peace and the pro-Jihad factions.

The military is however keeping its side of the peace deal by suspending all hostilities against the insurgents,The PUNCH learnt.

This, according to a top military source, was a direct outcome of a directive issued by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.

Badeh had on Friday ordered the   suspension of all on-going aerial and ground offensives against the sect.

Our source, who pleaded not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said the military did not consider the latest attacks     as a violation of the ceasefire.

He explained that it was very likely that the operatives of the terrorist cells who carried out the attacks were not aware of the peace deal.

The source said, “One cannot say the peace deal has been violated; it is the nature of most terrorist organisations to act that way, and it should be expected because they have several layers of operation.

“They have such a long chain that it takes time for them to communicate with the top unlike the military where you are very quick communication channels.

“Another thing is that each of the cells operates independent of the other. So those who carried out the attacks in the villages in   might not even be aware of the deal.”

He however   explained that security forces would not allow the other faction to exploit the peace deal to violate the security and safety of the people.

It was learnt that while the security forces would not be on the offensive, sustained efforts would be made to prevent crimes from being committed against the people.

The PUNCH gathered from another source that the military had ensured the suspension of aerial and land offensive in compliance with the CDS’ directive to give peace a chance.

He said, “We will not be watching any violation of the security and safety of our people, we will not be on the offensive but we won’t allow crimes to be committed.

“The air operation is suspended for the duration of the ceasefire; we will not be on the offensive; we really need to comply with the peace agreement at least to give peace a chance.”

Investigations   confirmed that soldiers have remained in their areas of deployment in the North-East.

Another security source warned that soldiers would be left with no option than to act if attacked.

He said while the troops fighting the terrorists   learnt of the ceasefire from the media, they were awaiting briefing from their commanders.

He said, “This is ceasefire does not say pull back soldiers; so soldiers have not been pulled back. It is logical, if soldiers are attacked, they would fight back; they won’t sit and watch but soldiers have not gone for any operation since the ceasefire.”

Efforts to speak with the Director Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade,on the latest developments did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

But other sources in government said that the   government was still expressing cautious optimism in its dealings with   the sect.

This, it was learnt, was the reason behind its decision to refrain from making a categorical statement on the ceasefire since the news broke on Friday.

A top official, who pleaded anonymity, said   the government has so far decided to keep a dignified silence to “see how the matter plays out during the week.

This, according to him, was the reason why the government was not surprised about the attacks after the ceasefire agreement became a public knowledge.

He said, “The government does not want to jump into the fray. It is true that discussions are ongoing but the government is watching the situation critically.

“The thinking is that once the process scales through, the government will make a public pronouncement.

“Hopefully, once the Tuesday meeting is successful, the government will talk. For now, we are watching events.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, did not yield result of the time of filing this report.

Sect captures another Borno town, beheads six

On Sunday, members of the sect   captured another Borno community, Abadam, after laying siege to it.

They also beheaded six people along the Biu – Garkida Road in the state.

It was gathered from security sources that the insurgents, numbering 100, invaded Abadam   on Friday night and took it over on Sunday morning.

They said the heavily armed terrorists arrived in the town in a convoy of about 50 Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles.

They however did not give a casualty figure but a resident told journalists in Maiduguri on the telephone that he saw six corpses, including that of his friend, while fleeing the town.

He said, “Boko Haram gunmen entered Abadam on Friday night and shot at any resident in sight   for almost two days until the early hours of Sunday when many of us started to flee to   our farmlands, bushes and border areas of Bosso in Niger Republic.

“I escaped by crossing River Kumadugu to Diffa   and from there, I boarded a bus to Damasak before arriving in Maiduguri today (Sunday).

“Among the people killed was my friend. My parents and other relations I believe are still in the bush and I do not know their state as I   speak to you .”

The resident added that there was no security presence in the town throughout the period of the attack.

Another resident also told   journalists   that the sect members, as in other places they had captured, hoisted their black and white flag in three strategic locations in the community.

He lamented the possibility of the town, being declared an Islamic Caliphate.

Some     communities in the state under the control of the sect are Dikwa, Gwoza, Marte, Damboa, Banki, Bama, Wulgo, Kirenowa.

Our correspondent in Borno State also gathered that the insurgents   beheaded six people on the same road   where the Emir of Gwoza, Idrissa Timta, was killed a few months ago.

The Executive Director of Stefanos Foundation, Mr. Mark Lipdo, said on Sunday that the terrorists left the bodies of the slaughtered victims   lying on the road   for a long time.

He said the son to one of the victims was injured by the insurgents when he attempted to remove   his father’s body from the scene.

Lipdo said, “Information says in spite government ceasefire agreement with the insurgents,   six innocent civilians were held hands bound and slauterered on the Biu Garkida Road of Borno State on Friday.”

The BringBackOurGirls group, has however asked the Federal Government to continue to secure lives and properties of Nigerians in the areas under Boko Haram attacks.

It also urged the government to maintain a delicate balance in its negotiation with the sect.

The spokesman of the group, Rotimi Olawale, said the government should have   asked for the release some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls as a proof that the negotiation was being done with the real Boko Haram leadership.

Olawale said, “For us in the BringBackOurGirls, the government needs to maintain a delicate balance in its negotiation with Boko Haram because the recent statement credited to principal secretary to the President says the negotiation is still going on.

“I think they should continue to negotiate with Boko Haram on that platform and secure the release of all those abducted.

“The initial question would be, is the government negotiating with the right group? I don’t know, government needs to take necessary caution.

“For me, the first thing would have been for the group to release some of the girls, so that we can be assured that they are the right group.”

Senator cautions FG

The   lawmaker representing Borno Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Ahmed Zannah, has   advised the Federal Government to be cautious in implementing any ceasefire with   Boko Haram.

Zannah,   in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Maiduguri on Sunday, said the government must exercise high level of wisdom and discretion in dealing with the issue.

He said, “I do not think it is true, because Boko Haram insurgents are still attacking communities in Borno. The insurgents attacked villages in both northern and southern Borno on Saturday.”

Zannah said if the ceasefire was real , the insurgents would not have attacked the villages.

When contacted, the Borno State Government declined comments on the issue.

However, a media associate of Governor Kashim Shettima, Isa Gusau,   told journalists on Sunday that the governor had no comment on the issue.

He said, “Governor Kashim Shettima has no comment on the issue for now. Shettima, whose state has been at the centre of Boko Haram attacks since 2009, says he has no comment for now over the reports, but he will speak at the appropriate time.”

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – 25 killed despite truce with Boko Haram

Reuters

Reuters) – At least 25 suspected Boko Haram insurgents were killed in clashes between soldiers and the Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria and five civilians were killed in fighting elsewhere in the region, a military source and residents said on Monday.

A ceasefire agreement between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government was expected to lead to the liberation of more than 200 school girls kidnapped by the militants six months ago, and talks were due to continue in neighbouring Chad on Monday.

Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce and there have been at least six attacks over the weekend — blamed by security sources on the insurgents — that have killed several dozen people since the announcement of the ceasefire.

A government spokesman has said that the fighting on Sunday may be the work of criminal gangs in the lawless region.

An army officer, who requested anonymity, said the militants tried to enter the town of Damboa late on Sunday through Alagarno, a Boko Haram hideout, but soldiers fought them off.

“Our men gunned down 25 of the insurgents because they would have entered Damboa and unleashed more terror on the town that is just picking up from its ruins,” the officer said.

He said an armoured vehicle and some arms were recovered from the insurgents.

Damboa, a garrison town near the border with Cameroon, has been the site of fierce fighting between the militants and Nigerian forces for months. The insurgents sacked the town in July but were driven out by an army counter-offensive.

A member of pro-government Civilian Joint Task Force vigilantes, Mohammed Haruna, said of clashes on Sunday, “Two of our members came to (the town of) Biu this morning from Damboa and said the soldiers engaged Boko Haram yesterday and the battle lasted till about midnight.”

Separately, Maiduguri resident Andrew Tada, said the insurgents killed five people in Gava, a hilly town in Gwoza Local Government Area not far from Damboa.

Tada said his brother in Gava was lucky to have escaped to the top of a mountain.

“My brother is still there now with other relatives, women and children,” he told Reuters after speaking with his brother on the phone.

“They (the militants) came yesterday (Sunday) while people were scouting for food at the foot of the mountain. When the insurgents sighted our people, they pursued them and slaughtered five,” Tada said. Reuters

Ebola not just Africa’s problem – Liberian President

BBC

Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urges world help on Ebola

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the whole world has a stake in the fight against Ebola.

In a “letter to the world” broadcast on the BBC, she said the disease “respects no borders”, and that every country had to do all it could to help fight it.

President Johnson Sirleaf added that a generation of Africans were at risk of “being lost to economic catastrophe”.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people across West Africa, including 2,200 in Liberia.

International donations have so far fallen well short of the amounts requested by UN agencies and aid organisations.

In the worst-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – about 9,000 people have been found to have the Ebola virus, which kills an estimated 70% of those infected.

Ebola treatment centre in Monrovia, Liberia, 30 SeptemberThe Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,200 people in Liberia alone

Fragile states

The letter, commissioned by the BBC and read out on the World Service’s Newshour programme, starts with the words “Dear World”.

She goes on to say that the fight against Ebola “requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise”.

“We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola,” she says. “It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves.”

A healthcare worker wearing protective gear hands out water bottles at a treatment centre near Freetown, Sierra Leone, 16 OctoberThousands of West Africans are being kept in isolation to try to stop Ebola from spreading

She said it was not a coincidence that Ebola had taken hold in “three fragile states… all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars”.

Liberia, she noted, had about 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the civil war in the late 1980s – and by its end in 2003 it had just three dozen.

“Ebola is not just a health crisis,” she added. “Across West Africa a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe.”

Donation shortfall

The latest crisis in West Africa is the worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

The virus spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

Donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to UN agencies and aid organisations, short of the $988m requested.

Separately, the UN has also appealed for donations to a $1bn Ebola trust fund, intended to act as a flexible source of back-up money to contain the disease.

Graphic showing pledges in fight against Ebola - 16 October 2014

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that the fund, which was launched in September, had received just $100,000 (£62,000) in donations so far.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the BBC he was “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response.

“If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently,” he said in a BBC interview.

line

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Ebola basics: What you need to know

How Ebola attacks

What virus has hit – in maps

Uncertainty over figures

line
How Ebola spreads

BBC

Sierra Leone – Koroma shakes up ebola system

BBC
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced a major shake-up of the body in charge of fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country.

He said his defence minister would head a new national response centre and report directly to him. The previous team was headed by the health minister.

Mr Koroma said people were dying and quick decisions had to be taken.

The latest Ebola outbreak has killed about 1,200 people in Sierra Leone, and more than 4,500 across West Africa.

In the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – 9,191 people have been found to have the virus, which kills 70% of those infected, according to the latest WHO figures.

Mr Koroma’s office said Sierra Leone’s new National Ebola Response Centre was replacing the previous body – the National Operations Centre – “with immediate effect”.

The statement said the new centre would be headed by Defence Minister Paolo Conteh, and would have full powers to combat the disease and ensure a more effective use of aid.

The World Health Organization is ramping up efforts to stop Ebola from spreading elsewhere in Africa
The latest crisis in West Africa is the worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

The virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.

It spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

International donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to UN agencies and aid organisations, following an appeal launched in September for $988m.


“I’ve lost five members of my family”

On Friday, a damning internal report emerged from the UN’s health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO).

It found that the organisation had failed to respond in time to a “perfect storm”.

The report seen by AP states: “Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall. A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.”

It says that experts should have realised that traditional methods of containing infectious disease would not work in a region with porous borders and poor health systems.

Issues highlighted by unnamed WHO sources who spoke to Bloomberg news agency include

Delays in WHO experts in the field sending reports to headquarters in Geneva
Bureaucratic hurdles preventing $500,000 (£311,000) reaching the response effort in Guinea
Virus contact tracers (tasked with identifying people who may have come into contact with sufferers) refusing to work out of concern they would not get paid
The WHO said the document seen by AP was incomplete and had not been checked. A full analysis of its actions would only be completed once the outbreak was under control, it added.

The UN’s special envoy for Ebola, David Nabarro, told the BBC that plans were on course to provide 4,000 beds for Ebola patients by next month, compared with 300 at the end of August.

“We are putting in place the foundations of a very powerful response,” he said, in response to criticism of the UN’s work.

How not to catch Ebola:

Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
Wear goggles to protect eyes
Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

IMG_1004.JPG

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29673633