If the recent World Health Organization estimates are correct then Ebola could well become one of the world’s deadliest pandemics of recent times. 10,000 new infections per week within two months is a figure which is bound to not only set tongues wagging but might raise some serious doubts about the current standards of global healthcare as advocated by international bodies such as WHO or the International Red Cross Society. What’s worse is that the current Ebola outbreak’s death rate has increased manifold and is currently pegged at 70 per cent.
After Eric Duncan Thomas became the first Ebola casualty in the United States and after the international condemnation of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, for its failure to save Duncan, there have been renewed efforts worldwide to find a solution to the global health situation that is refusing to stem in its mortality count. It is also ironic that the WHO director Margaret Chan confirmed the present Ebola outbreak as the most severe acute health emergency in modern times and said that the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained and threatening public health emergency, only after the death of Eric Duncan Thomas.
Shouldn’t WHO answer the many questions that have been levelled at its own efforts in combating Ebola now? When Thomas Nierle and Bruno Jochum, president and director general of Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF), the largest NGO working in West Africa, the epicentre of the Ebola virus questioned the world body’s commitment in an article, WHO’s response was nowhere to be found. There is no denying the fact that MSF has been dealing with the Ebola virus for the last 20 years now and the kind of expertise that they have, no public health institution can have it. WHO might be raising these significant concerns now but it should also not forget that after the restructuring in Geneva, its viral hemorrhagic fever unit was closed.
This unit, if it could have been functional today would have helped immensely in finding a cure for Ebola, which in itself is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever. With 4,033 confirmed deaths and 8,399 confirmed probable and suspected cases of Ebola recorded in seven countries till date, how exactly is WHO going to respond to questions about its decision to shut its said facility in Geneva, is case in point. With another confirmed Ebola patient in the United States, it needs to be noted that if the concerned patient too dies, there will be a lot of consternation that America might have to face. It is time that efforts globally should be coordinated in containing the deadly Ebola. If this continues, then even the WHO’s assessment won’t suffice.