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World must step up efforts to fight Ebola.

Sometimes, the conclusion supersedes the beginning. This is the case when talking of the Ebola virus in West Africa at the moment. Ebola, say experts, is in the driver's seat. And the world is simply being dragged along on a fatal ride. Despite the news of Ebola's stranglehold on the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria being months old, international galvanisation to tackle it, and subsequently prevent it from spreading, has been tardy to say the least. Last week, US President Barack Obama announced a slew of measures to help the affected countries that include despatching 3,000 US military personnel and hundreds of health care workers to the troubled spots. The United Kingdom is also pitching in with skilled personnel, but all these efforts come with a caveat: It is not known how many weeks, or months, it will take for them to be fully operational in the viral battlefield because they first need to be trained. Personnel apart, shortage of medical equipment is also a problem that needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week, the United Nations established the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund and appealed for contributions from member states, regional legislative bodies, inter-governmental or nongovernmental organisations, businesses and individuals. This reiterates the scale of efforts required to tackle Ebola. Nothing short of an international effort will work. The consequences, otherwise, are unimaginable. For example, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that if the pace of response remains what it is today, Ebola cases could rise to 1.4 million by January 2015. The World Health Organisation fears that without a speedy response, Ebola could end up as an endemic problem in West Africa and even move into people's homes.

This is not the only tragedy affecting the region. These countries are also being isolated from the rest of the world due to Ebola and as a result, are under severe economic oppression. Add to this the fact that their people are experiencing immense psychological stress on a daily basis. Whichever way you look at it, this is a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. Only a speedy global action plan can make a difference.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 26, 2014
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