The Ebola virus epidemic originating in Western Africa has killed more than 11,000 people worldwide, spreading to 10 different countries in the most deadly, widespread outbreak of the disease in history.
Yesterday (June 14), the World Health Organisation declared the latest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda as a health emergency, however it has not yet reached the criteria of an international emergency.
Meanwhile, the UN has declared the outbreak as ‘an extraordinary event’ of deep concern, despite it not yet qualifying as a global emergency.
The disease has spread to patients in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States.
Officials are said to be concerned at the rapid spread rate, and the lack of sufficient finance to fight it.
A statement from the World Health Organisation said:
The Committee is deeply disappointed that WHO and the affected countries have not received the funding and resources needed for this outbreak.
The international community must step up funding and support strengthening of preparedness and response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries.
WHO’s director general Dr Tedros Adhanom, added:
WHO and partners cannot tackle these challenges without the international community stepping in to fill the sizeable funding gap.
In the most recent outbreak, there has been up to 2,100 cases recorded so far and 1,400 people have died of the disease.
Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, has described the outbreak as ‘truly frightening,’ describing it as showing ‘no sign of stopping any time soon.’
Speaking to ScienceMag, he said:
If I look back to a similar time in West Africa in 2014, prime ministers and presidents were talking about Ebola. Frankly, that has not happened in this outbreak.
There are now more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history bar the west Africa epidemic of 2013-16, and there can be no doubt that the situation is escalating towards those terrible levels.
We urgently need a change in response to help stop Ebola spreading and save lives.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.