Even though some of the African countries have been declared disease-free, the Ebola outbreak is not yet contained, as approximately 30 people are still reported as getting infected every week.
According to the statement that David Nabarro, the special UN envoy for Ebola, gave at the World Health Organization conference in Cape Town, this infection rate would normally be considered as the start of a major epidemic.
But WHO isn’t surprised by these new cases, as the crisis peaked at much larger infection rates. What is surprising, however – and worrying at the same time – is the fact that at least one in three new infected people are not on the contact list.
This means that new contamination chains are still forming, and there are more people still infecting others across West Africa. This Ebola outbreak is the worst one recorded, as it has already taken a death toll of more than 11 200 people.
Infection rates are definitely going down; but new cases appear weekly, such as the 17-year-old Liberian boy who tested positive for Ebola on June 30. This case is that much more concerning, as Liberia has been declared Ebola-free two months ago.
Liberia is not the only one still fighting to stop the spread, even though it was the worst-affected one. Sierra Leone and Guinea, its neighboring countries, are still struggling to achieve the status of being free of the disease.
In the meantime, the general population from the Ebola-hit countries is in danger of dying from common diseases due to the lack of doctors, midwives, and nurses. Liberia and its neighbors are going through a severe shortage of health workers, as many were lost during the outbreak.
The World Bank reported that almost 4000 women might experience complications during pregnancy and at birth because of this – so much so that maternal mortality might increase “in Guinea by 38 percent, 74 percent in Sierra Leone and more than 100 percent in Liberia.”
Markus Goldstein, chief economist at the World Bank, said that the loss of health workers in these countries might bring back the maternal deaths to the rates recorded 15-20 years ago. The same report showed that health workers were the most affected by the Ebola outbreak, more than any other demographic group.
With more than 500 health care workers dead, the already crippled healthcare systems is going to take another hit, and the mortality rate not related to Ebola is expected to rise even when the three countries will achieve disease-free status.
Image Source: The Sleuth Journal
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