Monday, 11 January, 2016

Guinea Urged to Strengthen Health System as Ebola Outbreak Ends

Randall Craig | 07 January, 2016, 22:43

Public education and aggressive intervention have paid off and Guinea is now Ebola-free - so says the World Health Organization, two years after the West African epidemic began there. The country will now enter a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.

To earn this designation, Guinea had to go 42 days since the last case of Ebola tested negative for the virus.

All three of the west African countries hardest hit by the epidemic - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - now have documented stopping the original chain of infections that experts think began in December 2013 with the undiagnosed illness of a young boy in Guinea.

However, new cases through human-to-human transmission as a result of the re-emergence of Ebola virus that had persisted in a previously infected individual came up in late November in Liberia.

As world health watchdogs struggled to respond, the death toll mounted at a dizzying rate, igniting fears in Europe and elsewhere of a virus that mocked borders and national controls.

"It's the best year-end present that God could give to Guinea, and the best news that Guineans could hope for", said Alama Kambou Dore, an Ebola survivor.

According to World Health Organization, the end of Ebola transmission in Guinea marks an important milestone in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with the original chain of transmission starting two years ago in Gueckedou, Guinea. The Guinean government blamed the country's poor economic performance on the outbreak. A handful of cases of Ebola were subsequently reported in Nigeria, Mali, the US, and some European countries, yet were all contained.

This file photo taken on November 21, 2014 shows health workers wearing protective suits assisting a patient suspected of having Ebola on their way to an Ebola treatment center in Patrice near Macenta.

The epidemic killed more than 11,000 and sickened more than 28,000 in 10 countries, according to the WHO.

"Weak health systems fuelled the outbreak in all three countries".

Liberia has lost more than 4,800 people to the haemorrhagic fever, but is now set to be declared virus-free in January. They are traumatized and continue to be stigmatized in their neighbourhoods.

About the World Bank Group's Response to Ebola: The World Bank Group has mobilized US$1.62 billion in financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts. Despite the fact that just one person in US (who was not American) died from the disease, warnings filled headlines and Americans were terrified they could be next.