First world countries like the United States could be doing more to help areas affected by the Ebola virus, according to experts in Oklahoma.
“We, as a well-developed nation with lots of resources, should be providing more personnel,” said Dr. Randolph Hubach of the OSU public health program.
In the last month, there have been 1,000 new cases per week, according to the World Health Organization, a UN agency. The number of cases doubles about every three weeks. The public health infrastructures in West Africa are struggling to maintain public safety and health.
“Lots has happened with the spread of Ebola recently but I am not surprised by it,” said Dr. Ulrich Melcher of the OSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Actual numbers of cases are unknown because disease detectives cannot venture into infected areas due to safety concerns. The Centers for Disease Control is estimating that the actual number of Ebola cases is 2.5 times higher than what is officially known.
“Steps need to be taken to improve the outbreak in West Africa due to lack of supplies and proper healthcare, but we could see a recovery in the next six to nine months,” said Cynthia Harry of the Oklahoma City Health Department.
The CDC has contained Ebola in the United States and says that it has deployed teams of public health experts to West Africa and will continue to send experts to the affected countries.
Although the virus seems to be contained in many places, the fight is far from over. Nigeria, which had 20 cases, has just been declared Ebola-free by the WHO. Countries that are void of the virus have taken measures to contain and prevent it but are not helping with the worldwide problem. Liberia and Sierra Leone are in serious need for hospital beds according to the WHO. The two countries have 942 beds, but need more than 4,000 to satisfy the needs of the infected patients.
Although things seem grim, there might see improvement in the near future.
The WHO has proposed a “70/70/60” plan. To get the epidemic under control in 60 days, 70 percent of Ebola patients will be isolated and treated and 70 percent of burials will be safely executed.
The CDC has issued a six page checklist to help healthcare providers in the United States determine if a patient is infected. Symptoms of Ebola can take more than a week to appear in patients but healthcare professionals have to take every precaution.
But experts said with only four cases and one death reported in the United States, Americans don’t need to worry about an epidemic. Hubach thinks that the government has handled the situation well.
“The fact that we have not heard of Ebola in the United States until this year shows how effective public health has been,” Hubach said.