The World Health Organization declared the current Ebola virus disease outbreak an international public health emergency Friday, urging other countries to pitch in to help the areas of West Africa most affected. But here are some of the other developments about the health situation that you need to know for today.
- Africans blame lack of experimental drug on ‘selfish’ Americans: While the experimental drug given to two American health workers in Liberia before they were brought back to the United States seems to have helped them improve, others might have a long wait for the serum. The drug made by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals has not been tested for safety or effectiveness on humans and, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out, “there are virtually no doses available.” Some, like Anthony Kamara who lives in Sierra Leone, see this as a sign that “Americans are very selfish. They only care about the lives of themselves and no one else.” He called ZMapp a “miracle serum” that Americans “refused to share with us to save African lives.”
- A second experimental drug: The Food and Drug Administration eased safety restrictions on another experimental drug that could someday be used to treat patients with the Ebola virus. Canadian drugmaker Tekmira Pharmaceuticals said the FDA modified a hold recently placed on the company’s drug, after it stopped a small human trial due to safety concerns. This drug, which is being developed through a $140 million contract with the U.S. government., targets the genetic material of the virus.
- ‘Health care system is collapsing’: One of the reasons WHO called upon the international community is because health care systems in countries like Liberia are falling apart. According to Reuters, some hospitals have closed down and medical workers are leaving. As a result, Ebola isn’t the only ailment plaguing people. “People are dying from common diseases because the health care system is collapsing,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan told Reuters. “It is going to have a long-term impact, even after this crisis is behind us.”
- Families of diplomats told to evacuate: The State Department ordered all family of U.S. personnel to leave the American Embassy in Libera due to the current health emergency in the country. The department said in a statement Thursday that it was evacuating family members out of an abundance of caution and due to a lack of options for routine health care at medical facilities that are already having a hard time coping with the outbreak.
- Asian countries brace themselves: According to Reuters, some Asian countries are hoping to stop the virus from entering their borders from the start, putting thermal imaging cameras and doctors in airports as screening measures. There have not been any confirmed cases of the virus in Asian countries yet.
- Outbreak unprecedented?: CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Thursday the virus’ outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented. Part of that is because it’s in a region of Africa that never has dealt with Ebola before, but he also said that lack of infection control measures where patients are cared for and some of the burial practices are only making the spread worse. Frieden said that even if someone came back to the U.S. with the virus, he doesn’t think there would be a large outbreak in America.
This slightly more than four-minute video gives you a quick rundown on what you need to know, generally, about the Ebola virus disease:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.