December 3, 2021

AfDB offers $150 million to help West Africa handle Ebola fallout: Le Monde

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3b987asdfsFrom Reuters

(Reuters) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) told West African countries hardest hit by an Ebola epidemic they were willing to give $150 million to help balance their public finances, but they must first show they are doing everything possible to improve their health systems.

Economic growth in Liberia and Sierra Leone could decline by almost 3.5 percentage points and Guinea 1 percentage point, exposing financing gaps totaling $100 million to $130 million in each of the three countries, the IMF said on Thursday.

Efforts to stem the spread of Ebola have disrupted regional trade and transport and domestic commerce in several states.

“The urgency is to stabilize public finances,” AfDB chief Donald Kaberuka told Le Monde newspaper in remarks published on Saturday. “The bank is ready to unblock $150 million to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to consolidate their budgets and their currencies.”

“But it will depend on extra effort that they improve their health systems and food safety,” he said.

AfDB announced in August it would donate $60 million to help train medical workers and purchase supplies to fight the Ebola outbreak.

The death toll has risen to more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases with the number of new Ebola cases in West Africa growing faster than authorities can manage them, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Kaberuka, who predicted a drop in growth of 2 percent to 2.5 percent for the three countries, said the bank would soon discuss how to divide up the $150 million.

IMAGE: People walk past a billboard displaying a government message about Ebola, which reads: ”The risk of Ebola is still there. Let us apply the protective measures together”, on a street in the capital Abidjan September 10, 2014.


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Cuba’s Ebola aid latest example of ‘medical diplomacy’

By Rigoberto Diaz, AFP From Business Insider

Havana (AFP) – Cuba’s pledge to deploy a 165-strong army of doctors and nurses to help fight the Ebola outbreak is the latest example of the Communist country’s decades-old tradition of “medical diplomacy.”

Since 1960, when Cuba dispatched a team of doctors to help with the aftermath of an earthquake in Chile, the Caribbean island has sent more than 135,000 medical staff to all corners of the globe.

The latest batch being sent to help in west Africa’s Ebola crisis are part of a 50,000-strong foreign legion of Cuban doctors and healthcare workers spread across 66 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, according to Cuba’s Health Ministry.

Cuban Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda told reporters in Geneva on Friday some 62 doctors and 103 nurses were being sent to Sierra Leone to tackle the outbreak.

World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan welcomed the Cuban aid, the largest offer of a foreign medical team from a single country during the outbreak.

“Money and materials are important, but those two things alone cannot stop Ebola virus transmission,” said Chan. “Human resources are clearly our most important need.”

Morales said members of the team had “previously participated in post-catastrophe situations” and had all volunteered for the six-month mission, which begins in early October.

– ‘Foreign policy cornerstone’ –

“Medical diplomacy, the collaboration between countries to simultaneously produce health benefits and improve relations, has been a cornerstone of Cuban foreign policy since the outset of the revolution fifty years ago,” said US researcher Julie Feinsilver in a study for Georgetown University.

“It has helped Cuba garner symbolic capital — goodwill, influence, and prestige — well beyond what would have been possible for a small, developing country, and it has contributed to making Cuba a player on the world stage,” Feinsilver wrote in her study “Fifty Years of Cuba’s Medical Diplomacy: From Idealism to Pragmatism”.

“In recent years, medical diplomacy has been instrumental in providing considerable material capital — aid, credit, and trade — to keep the revolution afloat.”

Cuba’s medical diplomacy accelerated after the devastation wrought by Hurricanes George and Mitch across the Caribbean in 1998. In the aftermath of the disaster, Cuba sent some 25,000 doctors and health workers to 32 nations in the region.

In 2004, former President Fidel Castro and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez launched “Mission Miracle,” a program offering free eye surgery that has benefited some 2.8 million people across 35 countries, according to Cuban official sources.

  • Earthquake assistance –

At the same time, Cuba’s “medical brigades” have helped victims from devastating earthquakes in numerous countries including Algeria, Mexico, Armenia and Pakistan.


Cuba has also trained several thousand doctors and nurses from no fewer than 121 developing nations.

The biggest deployment has seen 30,000 Cuban health professionals sent to oil-rich Venezuela, a key regional ally.

In Brazil, meanwhile, some 11,456 Cubans are working in hard-hit areas suffering from staffing shortages.

Together with educational and sporting services, the export of medical professionals is worth around $10 billion annually to Cuba, making it the most important source of income for the island, outstripping money earned from foreign remittances and exports of nickel.

Yet while the qualifications and dedication of Cuba’s foreign legion are regularly lauded by countries benefiting from their services and organizations such as the WHO, they are not always viewed so positively by local health workers.

Trade unions and some politicians in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and Honduras have criticized the “army in white coats” sent by Cuba.

At the same time, Havana has also been criticized for withholding too big a chunk of the salaries of workers employed overseas.

Despite the thousands of health workers abroad, Cuba’s domestic healthcare remains one of the best staffed networks in the world, with 82,065 doctors, one for every 137 people, according to the National Statistics Office.

Young Cuban doctors take part in their graduation ceremony on September 19, 2005 in Havana © AFP/File Antonio Levi

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Liberian President calls on Obama to step up Ebola outbreak aid efforts



The Ebola virus outbreak currently holding West Africa in its grip has prompted the president of Liberia to publicly plead for help from U.S. President Barack Obama.

In a report in The New York Times, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is quoted desperately asking for assistance before the country descends into an unmanageable state.

SEE ALSO: Number of New Ebola Cases Increasing ‘Exponentially’ in Liberia, WHO Warns

“I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us,” said 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Johnson Sirleaf in a letter to president Obama on Tuesday, according to the report.

The public appeal comes just days before president Obama is scheduled to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Tuesday to receive a briefing on the Ebola situation in West Africa and discuss U.S. plans to combat the spread of the virus.

Johnson Sirleaf’s call for action from Obama follows a stark warning regarding the situation in Liberia from the World Health Organization delivered on September 8.

Calling for “non-conventional interventions” in the country, the report stated, “Of all Ebola-affected countries, Liberia has the highest cumulative number of reported cases and deaths… to nearly two thousand cases and more than one thousand deaths. The case-fatality rate, at 58%, is also among the highest.”

The head of the World Health Organization, Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, recently declared the Ebola outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” and called for “international solidarity” in addressing the outbreak.

Back in August, over 70 CDC workers were sent to West Africa, including Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to assist local efforts to track the disease. But for civilians, the region is currently on a travel warning list issued by the CDC.

“CDC urges all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone because of unprecedented outbreaks of Ebola in those countries,” reads the warning on the agency’s website. According to the CDC, 1,698 deaths have occurred in Liberia as a result of the Ebola virus as of September 11.

But despite the current dire circumstances in the region, there may be hope for an Ebola vaccine on the horizon.

According to a report from Reuters, an experimental vaccine, developed by the United States National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will begin human trials on 60 people in the UK next week.


Health workers in Liberia don protective gear before handling the body of a suspected Ebola victim on Aug. 12, 2014. Nycmsh

Liberia health worker – A health worker in Liberia sprays the body of a suspected Ebola victim with disinfectant chemicals on Sept. 4, 2014. IMAGE: ABBAS DULLEH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Caribbean should not be complacent regarding Ebola – CARPHA

From Jamaica Observer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says that while there has not been any case of the deadly Ebola virus in the Caribbean, the region should not rest on its laurels.

“The overall risk assessment remains low risk for the Caribbean region. Be that as it may this is not a time for complacency because of the consequence of an imported case…will be serious for the health of our residents and for the tourism industry in the Caribbean,” said CARPHA executive director Dr James Hospedales.

Dr Hospedales told a regional news conference that while the virus for which there is no vaccine is confined mainly to Central and South Africa, his organisation is continuing to monitor the situation and advising member states “to continue their efforts to attain a high level of preparedness for a possible, though unlikely introduction of case to a CARPHA member state.”

He said that this low level of risk “may change as the satiations changes and new information becomes available.”

Dr Hospdales said that while the risk level remains low “it is important that each member state takes the opportunity to ensure that several mechanisms are in place to mitigate the potential impact of its arrival.”

He said these measures are included in the international health regulations (IAHR) that came into force in 2005 and include appropriate communication messages to be disseminated to the general population, to travellers and to health workers ensuring that people know how to reduce their risks.

“This is key, we will have other problems beyond Ebola in the future, achieving compliance with the international health regulations is the way to be able to be prepared,” he said.

Dr Hospedales said that while the Trinidad-based organisation will not be able to carry out tests to determine whether a person had contracted the deadly virus, international arrangements have been made with the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the Public Health agency in Canada for such testing.

He said CARPHA is also bolstering regional preparedness by establishing an incident management team here “to facilitate coordination of the regional response.

For more on this story go to:–should-not-be-complacent-regarding-Ebola—CARPHA



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