Feb 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:36 AM EST

Ebola Virus Crisis: West African Nations Struggle to Contain Epidemic

Aug 02, 2014 04:03 AM EDT


Ebola continues its rampage through West Africa as three nations struggle to contain it and other nations take precautions to prevent it from reaching their borders.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have borne the brunt of the epidemic with more than a thousand infected in those nations. Their governments have enacted new policies to curtail Ebola's spread while international organizations decide how to proceed.

The U.S. Peace Corps has decided to evacuated its hundreds of volunteers in the three nations, according to the Washington Post. Currently, there are 102 volunteers in Guinea, 108 in Liberia and 130 in Sierra Leone. However, the latter nation has also taken its own precaution.

To prevent spreading the virus further, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf decided to close most of the nation's borders, except for key points with testing facilities, reported CNN.

"No doubt the Ebola virus is a national health problem," Sirleaf said. "It attacks our way of life, with serious economic and social consequences. As such we are compelled to bring the totality of our national resolve to fight this scourge."

Reuters adds that Liberia has also decided to close all schools in another attempt to prevent the virus from spreading. Non-essential government employees have also been given a 30-day mandatory leave, a policy enforced by security forces.

Across the border, Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency that will last between 60 to 90 days, according to President Ernest Bai Koroma, reported Reuters.

"Sierra Leone is in a great fight. Failure is not an option," he said.

Another measure enacted by the Sierra Leone government is enforcing the quarantine of infected persons with security forces. Reuters reports they will present at all treatment centers to protect health workers and patients.

In response of the continuing crisis, the World Health Organization has pledged $100 million to send more doctors and medical supplies to the region, according to The New York Times. Yet, many within their countries have criticized the governments' responses to the crisis.

"The whole thing has been very incompetently handled," said Lansana Gberie, a historian from Sierra Leone. "If the government had quarantined this area" where the outbreak started, in the remote northeast, "they could have contained it. Instead they opened a treatment center in Kenema, a major population center."

However, WHO has pledged further support for the West African nations. In a meeting between the three countries' heads of states and Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, in Guinea she advocated changes to the way in which the disease is handled in the countries.

The transcript of her speech explains how she advocated for greater education both on the dangers of the disease as well as the benefits of discovering it early. She also asked the nations to pay health workers well. Overall, however, Chan advocated improved planning.

"Accurate and detailed mapping of the outbreak is urgently needed. All affected and at-risk countries need a national response plan, and these plans need to be regionally coordinated," she said.

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