Doctors, nurses in Liberia fleeing Ebola hospitals

This is why the World Health Organization believes there could be more than a million Ebola cases by January.

A study conducted by the CDC in Liberia has found that ignorance and incompetence, plus unalloyed fear is contributing to the epidemic in Liberia.

Washington Examiner:

A new and remarkably candid on-the-ground audit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ebola crisis in Liberia said that doctors and nurses have fled hospitals in the infection zone and that obstacles to killing the virus remain.

The analysis of four remote Liberian counties conducted by local and CDC officials that were Ebola-free in August revealed that massive amounts of aid are still needed in the areas to fight the  virus, which can be spread as simply as by burying a dead victim.

While the CDC said locals are getting a handle on the crisis, it warned, “obstacles to preventing spread of Ebola remain, and personal protective equipment, sufficient personnel for effective contact tracing and case management, efficient patient transport and regional diagnostic laboratory capabilities are urgently needed.”

In other words, they've got nothing and need everything. Now imagine a million cases in West Africa and you have a good idea of the potential for an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

The review of the southeastern Liberian counties in August found utter chaos and a full breakdown in the medical system, which has contributed to the spread of Ebola. It also found that locals didn’t know how to identify Ebola, even though the virus was dominating other areas of the country.“No Ebola surveillance systems were in place,” the doctors found in the report issued Tuesday.

And the lack of medical staff seemed to surprise the report authors. “Before the epidemic, six physicians served all four counties. At the time of the evaluation, only three physicians remained; the others had left Liberia because of the epidemic. In two of four hospitals assessed, nursing staff members were not coming to work or had abandoned facilities; in another hospital, health care providers had not been paid for three months but were still providing basic care,” said the analysis.

Once locals were explained about the symptoms of Ebola, they realized that the virus had already hit.

“After basic training on case definitions and surveillance was provided to local officials, River Gee County health officials reviewed recent deaths and identified a patient with suspected Ebola. On Aug. 3, a pregnant woman (patient 1) died during a spontaneous abortion after leaving Monrovia where she had contact with an infected person at a funeral; she was buried by the community in the week after her death.

The number of Ebola cases is still under 7,000 and a massive effort by the West could still contain the virus. But that massive effort is not forthcoming which is why the WHO is warning of an "exponential" increase in Ebola cases in the next few months. The administration is correct; it is easier to stop the virus in Africa before it has a chance to spread beyond the continent. But our relatively meager response to the crisis has not inspired the rest of the west to contribute much of anything at all to the effort.

This is why the World Health Organization believes there could be more than a million Ebola cases by January.

A study conducted by the CDC in Liberia has found that ignorance and incompetence, plus unalloyed fear is contributing to the epidemic in Liberia.

Washington Examiner:

A new and remarkably candid on-the-ground audit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ebola crisis in Liberia said that doctors and nurses have fled hospitals in the infection zone and that obstacles to killing the virus remain.

The analysis of four remote Liberian counties conducted by local and CDC officials that were Ebola-free in August revealed that massive amounts of aid are still needed in the areas to fight the  virus, which can be spread as simply as by burying a dead victim.

While the CDC said locals are getting a handle on the crisis, it warned, “obstacles to preventing spread of Ebola remain, and personal protective equipment, sufficient personnel for effective contact tracing and case management, efficient patient transport and regional diagnostic laboratory capabilities are urgently needed.”

In other words, they've got nothing and need everything. Now imagine a million cases in West Africa and you have a good idea of the potential for an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

The review of the southeastern Liberian counties in August found utter chaos and a full breakdown in the medical system, which has contributed to the spread of Ebola. It also found that locals didn’t know how to identify Ebola, even though the virus was dominating other areas of the country.“No Ebola surveillance systems were in place,” the doctors found in the report issued Tuesday.

And the lack of medical staff seemed to surprise the report authors. “Before the epidemic, six physicians served all four counties. At the time of the evaluation, only three physicians remained; the others had left Liberia because of the epidemic. In two of four hospitals assessed, nursing staff members were not coming to work or had abandoned facilities; in another hospital, health care providers had not been paid for three months but were still providing basic care,” said the analysis.

Once locals were explained about the symptoms of Ebola, they realized that the virus had already hit.

“After basic training on case definitions and surveillance was provided to local officials, River Gee County health officials reviewed recent deaths and identified a patient with suspected Ebola. On Aug. 3, a pregnant woman (patient 1) died during a spontaneous abortion after leaving Monrovia where she had contact with an infected person at a funeral; she was buried by the community in the week after her death.

The number of Ebola cases is still under 7,000 and a massive effort by the West could still contain the virus. But that massive effort is not forthcoming which is why the WHO is warning of an "exponential" increase in Ebola cases in the next few months. The administration is correct; it is easier to stop the virus in Africa before it has a chance to spread beyond the continent. But our relatively meager response to the crisis has not inspired the rest of the west to contribute much of anything at all to the effort.