It is two months since the WHO started an ambitious plan to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus across the West Africa. The plan was to isolate 70% of the Ebola sick by December 1, 2014. Going by the indicators, the outbreak is far from being controlled and worse there is no timetable as to when this target will be achieved.
Head of the U.N.’s Ebola response Anthony Banbury says, “There are still going to be many people who catch the disease and many people who die from it”.
The plan was to isolate 70% of the sick in the worst affected countries and this includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — by December 1. The ground situation is as follows- 23% of the cases are isolated in Liberia, 26% of the required burial teams are in place. 40% of the cases are isolated in Sierra Leone, 27% of the required burial teams are in place.
With the deadline looming and it is almost certain that WHO’s targets will not be achieved in time. The Ebola Outbreak which was first reported in March in Guinea and the situation became critical in August when it was declared a public health emergency.
WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward was skeptical and accepted in October that the December 1 goal is a bit tough and would require herculean efforts.
Dr. Bruce Aylward said, “If we don’t do it in 60 days and we take 90 days: No. 1, a lot more people will die that shouldn’t; and No. 2, we will need that much more capacity on the ground to be able to manage the caseload.”
There has been heartening news from Liberia and Guinea which has seen a fall in number of cases and the situation stabilizing. However the real worry is the areas around Sierra Leone’s capital and a district in the country’s north which has seen a surge in new cases. The December 1 targets have been achieved in some places but not all.
The December 1 target is not a harbinger in the fight against Ebola and WHO has ominous portend that Ebola will continue to sicken people in West Africa till sometime next year. According to figures released by WHO there were nearly 16,000 cases of Ebola and 5,600 fatalities associated with the disease. It includes all confirmed, suspect and probable cases.