The deadly Ebola virus outbreak is on the brink of becoming a global epidemic. It has already caused a lot of havoc in the African regions where it originated, and now sporadic incidents indicate the virus is poised to infect the world. In the impoverished regions of Liberia, the desperate people are now turning to some drastic measures in the hopes of immunizing themselves against Ebola, even as their leader is pleading with the American President for aide.
The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has implored President Obama for help in managing her country’s rapidly expanding Ebola crisis. She has cautioned that, without American assistance, the disease could send Liberia into the civil chaos that has ravaged the country for two decades.
In one of the most heartfelt letters ever written by a president to a counterpart in a foreign land, Ms. Johnson said, “I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us.”
In the letter, she has urgently requested 1,500 additional beds in new hospitals across the country, and begged for the United States military to set up and run a 100-bed Ebola hospital in the besieged capital of Monrovia.
Experts on infectious diseases have long criticized Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis, particularly in Liberia, a country essentially founded by freed American slaves. Global agencies like the World Health Organization and the United Nations have also come under criticism for responding too slowly to the Ebola outbreak, reported The New York Times.
As if the looming threat of the disease currently overwhelming medical facilities wasn’t enough, a black market for an Ebola treatment derived from the blood of survivors is strongly emerging in the West African countries. The United Nations, which is aware of the situation, has confirmed that it will work with governments to stamp out the illicit trade in convalescent serum, reported Bloomberg.
Speaking about the clear and present danger, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “There is a danger that such serums could contain other infections and wouldn’t be administered properly.”
Needless to say, WHO is strongly urging the use of properly-obtained serum to treat current patients. However, the situation on the ground is worsening. Interestingly, a third U.S. missionary worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and flown to the U.S. for medical care was treated with blood transfusions from another American who recovered from the virus last month.
The illicit trade is believed to be based on the hope that the virus-fighting antibodies present in the treated patients can help those who are infected. However, owing to the widespread panic and improper training, the situation of sick people might worsen instead of improving, cautioned WHO.
[Image Credit | Dominique Faget / AFP via Getty Images]