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Experimental drugs in race to halt Ebola

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 02:26

The World Health Organisation has backed the use of experimental Ebola drugs in West Africa, as the deadly virus continues to spread in Nigeria. Joel Flynn asks what limited supplies of the vaccine could mean for further containment and how stretched health services can handle further spread.

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It's already the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola. The deadly virus has now killed a third person in Nigeria and there are ten confirmed cases. President Goodluck Jonathan holding more meetings with regional governors and health officials about how to limit the spread of the disease. SOUNDBITE: Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, saying (English): "Where they lack, the federal government will support the state to make sure that they have what it takes to contain the Ebola; it's unfortunate that one mad man brought the Ebola to us but we have to contain it." He's referring to Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer - who brought Ebola to Lagos from Liberia. He's one of the thousand people who've died - the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation now says unproven drugs can be offered to infected people. That includes U.S. drug ZMapp, which has had reports of success. Canada has also offered to donate a small quantity of its experimental vaccine for use in Africa. Marie-Paule Kieny is from the WHO. SOUNDBITE: WHO Assistant Director-General, Marie-Paule Kieny, saying (English): "There are some potential therapies and vaccines which look promising but which have not yet been tested or if they have not thoroughly in clinical trials." There are only limited supplies - just 10 to 12 doses of ZMapp, says the WHO. It's appealed for funds and medical staff to bolster health care in one of the world's poorest regions. The suffering made worse by health services that are struggling to cope, says the Secretary General of humanitarian organisation IFRC. SOUNDBITE: IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, saying (French): "There will be no acceptance if stigmatisation increases, so we have to work on two points: more respect and more protection for the infected and affected people, which will lead to more acceptance." Preventative public health measures are crucial. Some countries issuing their own orders - regional economic powerhouse Ivory Coast has banned air travellers from the three worst-hit countries. And in Nigeria, bloggers and activists are trying to raise awareness about transmission. SOUNDBITE: Hexavia Logistics General Manager, Babajide Fadoju, saying (English): "The most important aspect of all viruses, of all problems has got to do with talking about it, because you need to know what's happening in order for you to tackle it." Outside Africa, countries from Peru to the Czech Republic have high security labs for Ebola. While a Taiwanese airport has held containment drills. The disease seems unlikely to spread in developed countries - but there's no sign of an end to the outbreak.

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Experimental drugs in race to halt Ebola

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 02:26

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