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MSF: 6 months to contain Ebola

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 02:15

Head of medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) calls for more leadership from the World Health Organization to bring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa under control. As those countries try to cope, a German biopharma firm is helping develop drugs to fight the virus. Joel Flynn reports.

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Good news is in short supply, amid the world's worst outbreak of the Ebola virus. Not just in quarantine zones like here in Liberia. The World Health Organization's admitted the scale of the outbreak has been "vastly underestimated". But medical aid group Medicins Sans Frontieres says the WHO hasn't done enough. Joanne Liu is MSF's International President. SOUNDBITE: Medicins Sans Frontieres International President, Joanne Liu, saying (English): "WHO needs to take leadership and bring some strong elements into the field at all operational levels. This needs to happen, it's already started, but it needs to happen at all levels - at coordination and structural levels, at centralisation and coordination levels." Kenya now warning it's not ready for an outbreak on its territory. Elly Nyaim is chairman of the Kenya Medical Association. SOUNDBITE: Kenya Medical Association Chairman, Elly Nyaim, saying (English): "Two days ago the World Health Organisation classified Kenya as a high risk zone for transmission and they are particularly doing this because of the kind of measures that are put at the airport." Korean Air Lines is suspending flights to and from Nairobi. But Kenya Airways will not halt its service to four West African countries stricken by the deadly virus. CEO Titus Naikuni. SOUNDBITE: Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer, Titus Naikuni, saying (English): "We have had of course surveillance around the airport here, when I talk about surveillance not direct surveillance ourselves but to look at what the Ministry of Health is doing around the airport here." Nigeria has confirmed another case, taking the total there to 11. Drugs to treat Ebola are being worked on, but only small quantities are available. A German biopharmaceutical firm is helping U.S. firm Mapp with the development of experimental drug ZMapp. Icon Genetics manipulate DNA to help tobacco plants create antibodies, which are used in ZMapp. Victor Klimyuk is from Icon Genetics. SOUNDBITE: Victor Klimyuk, Chief Operating Officer, Icon Genetics saying (English): "What's special in our system is that that system provides for high yield of recombinant antibodies in plant cells. Other systems are somewhat... provide weaker results, yes." Only a handful of the unproven drugs have been delivered - these small shipments in Liberia. With more than a thousand dead, any kind of vaccine is key for West Africa and beyond.

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MSF: 6 months to contain Ebola

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 02:15