As the UN Security Council meets today for only the second time in history to address a world health emergency, the Ebola crisis continues to devastate communities in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Without concerted and immediate international action to tackle this crisis, the outbreak could see these countries’ hard-fought for progress set back years, bringing the healthcare system to its knees and, for Liberia and Sierra Leone, back to levels not seen since the end of their respective civil wars.
Current reports estimate that over 2,450 people have already lost their lives in West Africa and thousands more are fighting the highly-contagious virus.
While millions of children worldwide start their new school year this week, filled with excitement and hope, the classrooms in Ebola-affected countries remain eerily quiet, as communities are forced into quarantine for the foreseeable future. Many other countries in West Africa are currently on alert. Vacant farmland has not been ploughed in time for next year’s harvest, raising real concerns that families will not be able to provide for loved ones over the coming months.
With extremely limited or no medical facilities or trained doctors to help contain the outbreak, the governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are doing all they can to contain the epidemic.
As international development organizations, we will continue to do all we can to support the people and governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, namely by providing highly-trained personnel, medical equipment, and by supporting communities, but we do not yet have the means to respond effectively to an epidemic of this scale.
We welcome the leadership shown by certain governments so far in responding to the crisis. But a further and massive increase in financing, personnel, and expert capacity is urgently needed if we are serious about stopping the spread of Ebola.