Some critical of lack of access to Ebola drug
The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.
On Friday, WHO announced the Ebola outbreak - the largest and longest in history - is worrying enough to merit being declared an international health emergency. WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.
This agency had convened an expert committee this week to assess the severity of the ongoing epidemic in West Africa.
The current outbreak of Ebola began in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola and the death rate has been about 50 percent.
Officials in western Africa are taking increasingly desperate measures to stop the spread of Ebola.
In Liberia, troops in full combat gear were deployed in the rain today to block people traveling to the country's capital from rural areas hit by the deadly disease. In Sierra Leone, military forces are also being used to stop what's called "the unauthorized movement of Ebola-infected persons."
Those two countries account for more than 60 percent of the nearly 1,000 deaths from Ebola since March.
Meanwhile, officials say Africans seeking a drug to help contain the virus will have to wait months before a potentially life-saving experimental treatment is produced in even small amounts. The treatment is currently being used on two infected Americans who were flown from Africa to Atlanta.
The health minister of Nigeria told reporters today that he has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about access to the drug. A CDC spokesman said yesterday that "there are virtually no doses available."
That isn't satisfying people in the countries hard-hit by Ebola. One man in Sierra Leone said, "Americans are very selfish." He said, "They only care about the lives of themselves and no one else."