UN: UNICEF doubles staff in Ebola-affected countries, WHO deplores lagging vaccine research

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced plans to boost its staff in countries on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Dr. Peter Salama, Global Ebola Emergency Coordinator for UNICEF, told UN reporters late Monday in New York that the agency would double its staff from 300 to 600 in the three
most-affected countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - where children account for
one-fifth of all Ebola cases.

He also said an estimated 5 million children were affected and that some 4,000 children
had been orphaned by the current epidemic.

The UNICEF Coordinator described as "terrifying" the epidemic as seen from the eyes of the millions of children in the three most affected countries where "death is all around them", saying: "Schools are closed, children are confined to their homes and discouraged to play with other children."

In addition to those orphaned, he said "many more are sent away for their own protection and
are confined to quarantine centres not knowing whether their parents are alive or dead".

UNICEF, Dr Salama said, is reaching out to Ebola survivors who are often willing to work on the
front lines of the disease response at the community level in local care centres with community
health workers.

In another development, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, has attributed the lack of research into cures and vaccines for Ebola to the fact that the disease has historically been confined to poor African nations.

In her address to the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, Dr. Chan said a profit-driven industry
does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.

She noted that in the midst of the Ebola outbreak ravaging parts of West Africa in the most
severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times, "two WHO arguments that
have fallen on deaf ears for decades are now out there with consequences that all the
world can see, every day, on prime-time TV news".

"The first argument concerns the urgent need to strengthen long-neglected health systems,
and without fundamental public health infrastructures in place, no country is stable. No
society is secure," she said.

The second argument, Dr. Chan said, is that despite the fact that Ebola emerged nearly
four decades ago, why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?

"Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R

04 november 2014 04:47:23

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