Current Affairs 4 – Ebola
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is an infectious disease that spreads through contamination with a patient’s body fluids like blood, semen, or a lactating woman’s milk. It starts with high fever, sore throat, muscular pain, vomiting and diarrhea. One out two patients succumb to this viral disease within 6 to 16 days. Ebola is prevalent in the western coast of Africa.
Early diagnosis through blood tests, isolation of the patients, and spreading awareness about the ways to curb spreading of the disease are the ways to rein in the epidemic.
The world woke up to the menace of Ebola in 1976 when the disease broke out simultaneously in two locations – Nazara in South Sudan, and Yambuka in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has taken it to itself the task of fighting and containing Ebola. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ravaged by Ebola since August 1, 2018 when the first case came to light. Since then, 1700 people have already died of the disease and another 2500 have been taken ill. The scale and ferocity of the epidemic has brought WHO to the fore, because only a global organization like it can provide the skill and resources to contain the disease.
The WHO has declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Prior to this declaration, the WHO had pondered the matter thrice, and desisted from declaring the Emergency. Beni, the city located in the north east of DRC now bears the brunt of the epidemic with the maximum cases reported.
The declaration of Emergency was triggered by the report of a single case of Ebola in Goma, another city in DRC with a population of two million. Curiously, reporting of multiple Ebola infections from Uganda had not prompted WHO to formally declare the emergency that it now did. What weighed in the mind of WHO experts to declare it as a global emergency is the fact that the infected people spotted in Uganda had all traveled from Congo, and there had been no outbreak of Ebola in Uganda itself.
This is the fifth instance of WHO declaring an outbreak of Ebola as a global emergency. Declaring a situation as emergency helps to put in place measures that could limit the spread of pathogen across boundaries, and, more importantly, effect a coordinated international response.