Ebola epidemic an international health emergency, WHO declares
West Africaâs Ebola epidemic is an âextraordinary eventâ and now constitutes an international health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Aug. 8.
The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said the possible consequences of a further international spread of the outbreak, which has killed almost 1,000 people in four West African countries, were âparticularly seriousâ in view of the virulence of the virus.
âA coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola,â the WHO said in a statement after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola. The declaration of an international emergency will have the effect of raising the level of vigilance on the virus. âThe outbreak is moving faster than we can control it,â the WHOâs director-general Margaret Chan told reporters on a telephone briefing from the WHOâs Geneva headquarters.
âThe declaration ... will galvanise the attention of leaders of all countries at the top level. It cannot be done by the ministries of health alone.â The agency said that, while all states with Ebola transmission - so far Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - should declare a national emergency, there should be no general ban on international travel or trade. Ebola has no proven cures and there is no vaccine to prevent infection, so treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea - all of which can contribute to severe dehydration.
âNot a mysterious diseaseâ
Keiji Fukuda, the WHOâs head of health security, stressed that, with the right measures to deal with infected people, the spread of Ebola - which is transmitted...