The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s special emergency committee held last Thursday a teleconference where it officially announced Ebola a global health emergency.
This week alone a total of 68 new cases – amounting to 1779 – and 29 deaths – amounting to 961 were reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
At this time, there are no registered medicines or vaccines against this deadly virus. Several experimental options are currently under development.
The recent treatment of two health workers from US faith-based aid organisations has raised questions about whether medicines that have never been tested or shown to be safe in humans should be used in outbreak situations. In the case of Ebola, supplies are extremely limited, which then raises questions about who should receive it, if it’s used.
The committee advised that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an extraordinary event, a public health risk to other States and that a coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop the spread.
On Monday, 11 August, WHO will convene a panel of medical ethics experts to begin looking at the use of experimental treatments in the ongoing outbreak in West Africa.