Ebola: Morocco calls for Afcon 2015 to be postponed

More than 4 000 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in West Africa at the start of the year. (Reuters)

More than 4 000 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in West Africa at the start of the year. (Reuters)

The Moroccan government on Friday called for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to be postponed due to the deadly Ebola epidemic.

The biennial competition is scheduled to be held in the North African country from January 17 to February 8. Morocco’s health ministry made the plea in the wake of their decision “to avoid events which involve those countries affected by the Ebola virus,” the MAP news agency quoted a government statement as saying. 

The demand to delay the event has been lodged with the Africa Cup of Nations’s organisers, the Confederation of African Football. More than 4 000 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in West Africa at the start of the year, according to the latest figures released by the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile, health experts from around the globe said on Friday it would be unethical in drug trials to give non-active placebos to people infected with the killer Ebola virus.

The disease is so deadly, with a mortality rate as high as 70%, that doing so would amount to withholding “at least the possibility” of a cure, said the experts including Peter Piot, who co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976. 

Randomised control trials in which one group of people get the experimental drug and others a placebo or dummy drug, would not be ethical under the circumstances, they stated in a letter published by The Lancet

Alternative trial designs
Alternative trial designs already existed to find a working drug “more quickly, and with greatest social and ethical acceptability,” the 17 health professionals and medical ethicists said. Earlier this month, a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association argued that randomised trials would help “maximise lives saved in the present epidemic and ensure knowledge gains for the next”. 

“We disagree,” said the authors from Nigeria, Guinea, Ghana, Hong Kong, France, Britain, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and the United States in The Lancet

“No-one insisted that Western medical workers offered ZMapp and other investigational products were randomised to receive the drug. None of us would consent to be randomised in such circumstances.” 

In cancers with poor prognosis, it is accepted that a promising new drug can be given to patients based on studies that did not have a control placebo group, with fuller analysis following later. – AFP

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