World Bulletin / News Desk
The Ghanaian government has pledged to put its medical research center at the service of experts seeking to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Ghana's Noguchi Memorial Institute "will be available to support research into how we can contain and find the needed vaccines to make sure that this outbreak does not occur again," Health Minister Sherry Ayitey told a West African ministerial meeting in Accra – devoted to discussing the Ebola crisis – on Wednesday.
"At this crucial moment, our sister countries also need financial resources to support the effort going on to fight the Ebola virus," she said. "So we would like to appeal to our development partners to… support the three countries so they can procure the needed drugs to support health personnel fighting Ebola."
She called on attendant health ministers "to go back home and discuss with heads of state if it's possible that countries within the sub-region can make contributions to support our three sister countries."
Held under the auspices of the World Health Organization, the two-day meeting aims to review the current Ebola situation and share experiences regarding preventive and control measures.
The meeting is being attended by the health ministers of Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Uganda, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Ivory Coast.
Ebola is a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure.
According to the WHO, the virus – which tends to cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever – has a fatality rate of some 90 percent.
The virus can be transmitted to humans from wild animals and also spreads through human-to-human transmission.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are all struggling with recent Ebola outbreaks.
As of June 17, a total of 264 Ebola deaths and 398 infections had been reported in Guinea; 24 deaths and 33 infections in Liberia; and 49 deaths and 97 infections in Sierra Leone, according to the WHO.
The tropical fever first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the DRC. It was named after the Ebola River, which runs close to the Congolese town of Yambuku – the site of the first documented case of the virus.
Luis Gomes Sambo, the WHO's regional director for Africa, called for "stronger national leadership and international partnership" as a means of supporting countries affected by Ebola.
"At the end of the meeting, we expect to agree on a single inter-country strategy, which will galvanize key actors, bring together expertise, and mobilize additional resources for accelerated actions to combat the epidemic," he said at the meeting.
Sambo underscored the need to carry out research to address the knowledge gap in relation to the virus' evolution.
He went on to call on the global and African research community to help find a cure for Ebola.
In exclusive statements to Anadolu Agency, Sierra Leone's Deputy Health Minister Abubakar Fofana said there was a 30.7-percent fatality rate for Ebola victims in his country.
"We have challenges that pose serious threats to our campaign against the disease," Fofana told AA.
"These are issues like ignorance, illiteracy, denial and culture. These are leading to denial from the people; they even go to the extent of causing violence to health workers," he said.
According to Fofana, Sierra Leone's government has set up an emergency taskforce to tackle the Ebola crisis.
"This emergency taskforce was chaired by the health minister. We meet every day and we are able to come up with an emergency preparedness plan," he said.
"We also put together an inter-ministerial team to make high-level political decisions that need to be done," he added.Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2014, 10:18