| WASHINGTON, Sept 3
WASHINGTON, Sept 3 Fear of contracting the
deadly Ebola virus is hampering efforts to recruit international
health workers and slowing the delivery of protective garments
and other vital materials to stricken areas in West Africa,
World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday.
Since March, more than 3,500 confirmed or probable cases of
the disease have been reported and more than 1,900 people have
died, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, told
reporters at a Washington news conference.
Chan said overwhelming fear of Ebola was making it difficult
to recruit the foreign medical teams needed to mount an
effective response. "That's the reality," she said.
She said the WHO was seeking to gain air and sea access to
the affected countries, which have become increasingly isolated
as airlines and boats refuse to land or dock for fear of
Dr. David Nabarro, the senior United Nations Coordinator for
Ebola, told the news conference the international effort to
contain the outbreak needed to be scaled up three- to four-fold,
at a cost of at least $600 million.
That includes increasing the number of motorcycles,
ambulances and other vehicles available to transport patients to
medical facilities; increasing the supply of protective
equipment, gloves and gowns; providing hazard pay and other
incentives for local workers; and taking steps to protect local
economies from collapse.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general for
health security, said several thousand medical personnel would
be needed to treat the sick as the outbreak grew along with
several hundred international experts to help run laboratories
and train healthcare workers.
In Liberia on Tuesday, the government began offering a
$1,000 bonus to any healthcare worker who agreed to work in
Ebola treatment facilities.
Neither the WHO nor the United Nations can force airlines to
land in affected countries. Chan said the WHO was in discussions
with commercial airline associations and others to address their
The overall fatality rate of the current outbreak is 51
percent, ranging from a low of 41 percent in Sierra Leone to a
high of 66 percent in Guinea, WHO said.
Countries affected by the epidemic include Guinea, Liberia,
Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. An outbreak in the Democratic
Republic of Congo is unrelated to and independent of the West
African epidemic, Chan said.
The U.S. government "has been a very strong supporter" of
WHO's efforts in the outbreak, she added, naming countries
including China, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom,
France, Kuwait, and Canada as providing logistical, medical or
Those efforts continue to fall short, however. Most new
Ebola infections are occurring in the community as families care
for patients who have no place to go and often refuse to be
identified to public health workers, Fukuda said.
(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Howard