Health, Government - Ebola Underestimated Says UK Official
A UK officials visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo says international health officials shouldn't wait and must declare the current Ebola outbreak an international emergency.
"We are on the edge with this crisis. We keep pulling it back from the brink but it is very dangerous," said UK international development chief Rory Stewart, "The very worst-case scenario is if it broke out of the numbers that you could vaccinate. Due to the insecurity, areas that appeared cleared of the disease, such as Beni, have seen the population struck again."
The UN World Health Organization says that 2,400 people have been infected with the Ebola virus and 1,606 have died. But militia groups continue to attack health workers. Besides the violence, there is little trust for vaccination efforts in areas where international aid groups didn't come in to take care of more easily cured and prevented diseases like cholera or measles. In some villages, 30 percent of people are afraid to get one of the three experimental vaccines being deployed in this outbreak.
"This place is awash with rumors," said Stewart. "People are very suspicious of the first vaccine. They already think health workers get a different type of vaccine to other people. They are suspicious why the dosage has been reduced or halved.
"The fact is there is an enormous number of people that are very keen to undermine the response because they may be making an incredible amount of money from it," he continued. "The (rebel groups) may be connected with the logistics companies or hotels that are making some money from this."