Health Worker Surge Needed in West Africa: EU Ebola Czar

by Kathy Jones on  October 28, 2014 at 11:10 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
Tens of thousands of health workers are needed to fight Ebola in west Africa, the EU's new Ebola czar said on Monday.
 Health Worker Surge Needed in West Africa: EU Ebola Czar
Health Worker Surge Needed in West Africa: EU Ebola Czar

Chrystos Stylianides told reporters in Brussels "the results of the epidemic are frankly frightening," having killed nearly 5,000 people among the 10,000 who have fallen ill, almost all of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

He said he would travel to west Africa in the second week of November, making good on an earlier promise, and called for a ramped-up response.

"What is most needed at this stage is human expertise," Stylianides said. "Affected countries have few skilled staff. They badly need reinforcements."

He said there were many European doctors, nurses and others ready to go to west Africa now that they can be assured of being brought home for medical care if they become infected.

He also said the region needed to increase the number of beds for Ebola patients "from 1,000 at present to 5,000 as soon as possible," citing World Health Organization figures.

With eight medical and support staff required per bed, Stylianides said, "This means we need 40,000 staff."

Claus Sorensen, a humanitarian specialist with the European Commission, told the same news briefing that "all of these people do not need to be international health workers."

"We need to train very fast vast numbers of volunteers in the countries themselves."

Sorensen said it would be good to have 2,000 to 3,000 international health workers among the 40,000, but "5,000 would be better."

There are currently only 200 international health workers in different categories, including from non-governmental organisations and the US military, he said.

Stylianides, the incoming EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, said his trip to west Africa will allow him to see for himself what needs to be done.

"My presence on the ground will (also) underline that fear and isolation is not an option, that our solidarity is real and tangible," he added.

Travellers from west Africa have infected a few health workers in the United States and Europe, but US and European officials say an epidemic was highly unlikely in Western countries where there is advanced health care.

Source: AFP

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