Ebola drains already weak West African health systems


SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

The deadly Ebola virus ravaging Sierra Leone and Liberia has pushed already weak healthcare systems into intensive care.

While global efforts have been focused on Ebola, many people have failed to receive treatment for other diseases such as malaria and measles, and this has led to even more deaths, experts say.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Sierra Leonean risk analyst Omaru Sisay told the BBC.

“Because of Ebola, cases of people not being treated for malaria, cholera and measles have increased significantly,” he says.

Painting a similar picture about Liberia, the UN children’s agency Unicef says Ebola has severely disrupted health services for children, caused schools to close and left thousands of children without a parent.

“Children are dying from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases and pregnant women have fewer places to deliver their babies safely,” it said in a statement.

The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, says that while statistics are not available, suspicion exists that some of the deaths attributed to Ebola have been caused by cholera, malaria, typhoid and other illnesses, as people either did not go to hospitals or were turned away by medical workers who feared that they carried the deadly virus.

He says with the rainy season under way, the government has in recent weeks taken steps to prevent a cholera outbreak by chlorinating wells in Monrovia.

Unicef estimates that 8.5 million children and young people under the age of 20 live in areas affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Of these, 2.5 million are under the age of five.



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