One of the men responsible for discovering the Ebola virus has criticized the World Health Organization’s initial response to the most recent epidemic, which has so far claimed more than 6,000 lives across West Africa alone. In an interview with broadcaster Al Jazeera due to air on Saturday, December 6, Dr Peter Piot said while it was normal to have some kind of delay in the first stages of confirming the deadly disease, the amount of time it took the WHO to react was unacceptable.
He went on to accuse the United Nations health agency of drastically underestimating the scope of the outbreak. “It took a thousand dead Africans and two Americans who were repatriated to the US because they were infected. There’s no excuse for that… It took too long, we wasted too much precious time,” he said. Professor Peter Piot, co-discoverer of the Ebola virus It comes as the WHO warns Ebola is increasing in intensity in Sierra Leone, with authorities confirming another doctor is infected. The country, one of those worst hit by the virus, has seen a jump in new cases, recording 537 in the week to November 30, compared with 385 the previous week.
The agency also warned that although authorities in Guinea and Liberia were cautiously optimistic the outbreaks there might be stabilizing, it believed the data was too “inconsistent” to make assumptions, particularly when it came to the true amount of deaths. WHO statistics show that out of 17,145 cases recorded worldwide, 6,070 have been fatal. The organization also commented on facilities, saying that although there were enough, “the uneven distribution of beds and cases means there are serious shortfalls in some areas.”
This has prompted the African Union to promise 1,000 new workers by the end of the year, although only 87 have arrived so far. On Wednesday the AU announced the deployment of 250 Nigerian medics to the affected region. Meanwhile, the World Bank has said it will fast track the delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money to help fight Ebola in west Africa, as well as implement a two-year recovery plan to help impoverished Sierra Leone recover.
“We must make sure that the Ebola epidemic is not followed by a food security crisis,” said World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim.
This follows a report by the Global Business Coalition for Education showing across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, around five million school children are missing out on their education. Schools and other public buildings have either been closed to try and prevent the spread of the disease, or are now being used to house patients.