DAKAR/LAGOS (Reuters) - The world's
"disastrously inadequate response" to West Africa's Ebola outbreak means
many people are dying needlessly, the head of the World Bank said on
Monday, as Nigeria confirmed another case of the virus.
In a newspaper editorial, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said
Western healthcare facilities would easily be able to contain the
disease, and urged wealthy nations to share the knowledge and
resources to help African countries tackle it.
"The crisis we are watching unfold derives less from the virus
itself and more from deadly and misinformed biases that have led to
a disastrously inadequate response to the outbreak," Kim wrote in
the Washington Post.
"Many are dying needlessly," read the editorial, co-written by
Harvard University professor Paul Farmer, with whom Kim founded
Partners In Health, a charity that works for better healthcare in
In a vivid sign of the danger posed by inadequate health provision,
a man escaped from an Ebola quarantine center in Monrovia on Monday
and sent people fleeing in fear as he walked through a market in
search of food, a Reuters witness said.
The patient, who wore a tag showing he had tested positive for
Ebola, held a stick and threw stones at a doctor from the center in
the Paynesville neighborhood who stood at a distance and tried to
persuade him to give himself up.
At one point, he stumbled and fell, apparently weakened by illness.
Healthcare workers wearing protective clothing forced him into a
medical vehicle and returned him to the facility.
"We told the Liberian government from the beginning that we do not
want an Ebola camp here. Today makes it the fifth Ebola patient
coming outside vomiting," said a man who watched the scene. Another
witness said patients at the treatment center did not receive enough
Ebola can only be transmitted by contact with the bodily fluids of a
sick person, but rigorous measures are required for its containment.
There is no proven cure, though work on experimental vaccines has
More than 1,500 people have been killed in West Africa in the worst
outbreak since the disease was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola
River in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 3,000
people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, have been
Poor healthcare provision has exacerbated the challenge. Liberia had
just 50 doctors for its 4.3 million people before the outbreak, and
many medical workers have died of Ebola.
Shortages of basic goods, foodstuffs and medical equipment have been
worsened by a decision by some airlines to stop flying to the worst
hit countries. Several neighboring states have closed their borders
and many international organizations have pulled out their foreign
The World Health Organization said last week that casualty figures
may be up to four times higher than reported, and that up to 20,000
people may be affected before the outbreak ends. It launched a $490
million plan to contain the epidemic.
Kim and Farmer said that, if international organizations and wealthy
nations mounted a coordinated response with West African nations
using the WHO plan, the fatality rate could drop to below 20 percent
- from 50 percent now.
"We are at a dangerous moment," they wrote. "Tens of thousands of
lives, the future of the region and hard-won economic and health
gains for millions hang in the balance."
Nigeria confirmed a third case of Ebola on Monday in the oil hub
of Port Harcourt, bringing the total of confirmed infections
nationwide to 17, with around 270 people under surveillance.
A doctor in Port Harcourt died last week after treating a contact of
the Liberian-American man who was the first recorded case of the
virus in Africa's most populous country. That raised alarm that
Ebola, which looked on the verge of being contained in the
commercial capital, Lagos, may flare up elsewhere.
Senegal, a transport hub and center for aid agencies, became the
fifth African nation to confirm a case of Ebola on Friday, a
21-year-old Guinean student who had evaded surveillance in his
homeland and arrived in Dakar.
"People should know that, if it were not for this boy's state of
health, he would be before the courts," President Macky Sall told
state television. "You cannot be a carrier of sickness and take it
to other countries."
Some shops in the bustling Senegalese capital ran out of hand
sanitizer on Monday as concerned residents stocked up.
The house and shop owned by the student's relatives in the densely
populated Dakar neighborhood of Parcelles Assainies was disinfected
by health teams. Authorities placed 20 people who had come into
contact with the student under surveillance and were giving them
twice-daily health checks.
(Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg, Diadie Ba
in Dakar, Tansa Musa in Cameroon, James Harding and Derick Snyder in
Monrovia; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Kevin Liffey and