Newsclick analyses the predictions made by WHO and CDC that more than a million people are likely to be dead from ebola by January 2015. It explains why the deadly epidemic is still expanding and the dismal failure of the world in addressing the spread of ebola. It links the spread of ebola to the civil wars, the greed of global corporations that have wrecked the economy of the West African countries and deep cuts in WHO's emergency response budget.
Current predictions indicate that more than a million people are likely to be dead from Ebola, by January 2015. These are far worst than the 13,500 dead, that WHO had estimated only a month earlier. The public health system in the 3 most affected states Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are near collapse. A number of patients are doubling every 2 to 4 weeks in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, showing clearly, that it is still a rapidly expanding epidemic. The cases reported are also grossly under estimated. The actual numbers are at least 2 to 3 times higher. If action is taken immediately, then the figures of those infected will reach a higher for about 3,500 cases per day, start dropping by December and be nearly 0 by January end, next year. If we delay, the intervention by just a month, the figures would rise to 10,000 per day and with a delay by 2 months, it would rise to about 26,000 per day and continue to rise exponentially, for quite sometime thereafter. With 70% mortality, we are looking at nearly 20,000 dead per day from Ebola by January 2015. It is not that Ebola itself has undergone any change, it is the response to Ebola that has failed. It took more than 2 months to identify the disease itself and then, another 5 months before WHO on August 8, 2014, declared it is a public health emergency of international concern. Ebola has no cure or vaccines, what we have a very limited stocks of experimental ones, that cannot control the disease once it is in epidemic mode. The world is paying for not developing vaccines and medicines for Ebola. Despite the lack of vaccines, Ebola is not difficult to control, as it infects only through contact with bodily secretions. Measures such as isolating the patients in Ebola treatment units, with adequately equipped health personnel, controlling the burial of the dead can break the back of the epidemic. Why did the 25th occurrence of Ebola then generate such a disaster? The 3 countries affected have been destroyed earlier, by colonial loot and then, the civil wars that were instigated by global capital, to secure their rich mineral wealth, while Charles Taylor, the then President of Liberia was convicted of war crimes for trading in 'blood diamonds' or conflict diamonds, De Beers, the global diamond monopoly emerged completely unscathed for the same crime. The second is WHO, whose budget for emergency response has been cut by more than 50% in the last year alone. Moreover, 80% of the existing WHO budget is for donor designated programmes and cannot be used for fighting Ebola or any other epidemic. The US President Barak Obama has declared war on Ebola, in the same way, that the US is waging war against so called terrorists.
Barak Obama (U.S. President): At the request of Liberian government we are gonna establish a military command center in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region, similar to our response after the Haiti earthquake. Its gonna be commanded by Major General Darryl A. Williams, the commander of our army forces in Africa. He just arrived today and is now, on the ground in Liberia and our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and control, in logistics, in engineering and our department of defense is better that, our armed services are better at that, than any organisation on earth.
Kambale Musavuli (Consultant, Thoughtworks): All people though have workers on the ground that have been fighting day and night to stop the spread of the Ebola virus and they've had specific requests for supports on the ground in terms of medical equipments and health workers coming on the ground, while when you see the response, that whenever you need health workers, you are getting military, you ask yourself, why are we getting military?
In contrast, humans are sending 165 health workers to Sierra Leone, time is running out in the world, if we do not take immediate action, worst may follow, not only in West Africa but in other parts of the world as well.