West Africa needs $200m to fight Ebola
Updated: 2014-10-16 08:58
UNITED NATIONS - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three hardest-hit West African countries in the Ebola crisis, need $200 million to halt the Ebola outbreak, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) chief of health, Mickey Chopra, said in an interview with Xinhua.
"The Ebola outbreak is something we haven't seen before at this magnitude. It has already killed 4,000 people across the three countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea," Chopra said.
The virus was first detected in March of this year and the Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 4,400 lives. Since the first case was identified seven months ago, the "slow moving" virus has left thousands of people dead, debilitated and has raised global concern.
Chopra said, Ebola is a slow moving virus because it's difficult to contract.
"It's spread through bodily fluids (like) your sweat, vomit or diarrhea," said Chopra, the medical doctor and the former director of the Health Systems Research Group of the South Africa Medical Research Council.
To become infected with the virus, a person has to touch an Ebola stricken individual's vomit, sweat or diarrhea and place it in their mouth or eyes because the skin is a good protective cover, Chopra said.
As of now,"(Ebola) is particularly hitting women and children," he said.
Women are being hit because they're the caretakers and they're at the forefront of this outbreak, he said.
"Children in particular have been exposed to sick people's vomit or (people's sweat)," Chopra said.
The latest news reveals that the majority of people contracting Ebola are women and children.
To be exact, "we know that about 25-30 percent are children," Chopra said.
He said the women and children greatly impacted by Ebola reside in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
In these nations, the communities are surrounded by inadequate and weak treatment facilities, Chopra said. More specifically, the health systems weren't ready to respond quickly to the Ebola outbreak, he said.
To increase awareness about Ebola and build up the health systems across these countries, UNICEF is requesting financial assistance.
"Most importantly we (..) need financial support. We need 200 million U.S. dollars to at least get through (the) first phase of the epidemic," he said. "So we're talking to countries, donors and people on the street."
"They can (all) do a lot to assist us and support the families and the women and children in particular," he said.
UNICEF's recent request for 200 million U.S. dollars falls in line with a broader six-month appeal for 987.8 million U.S. dollars that governments and humanitarian agencies need to fight the outbreak.
The petition for funding by UNICEF comes at the same time the United Nations committee on administrative and budgetary approved an appeal of 49.9 million U.S. dollars for the first-ever UN emergency health mission.