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12 Oct 2014 08:07
A health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering Mali from Guinea at the border in Kouremale, Mali, on October 2 (Joe Penney, Reuters)
The head of the African Development Bank expressed concern on Saturday that some donors responding to the Ebola crisis were repackaging aid money, funnelling
it away from other areas in need in the three countries at the centre for the
In an interview, Donald Kaberuka said moving funds from already allocated
development projects in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone was unhelpful in the
long term and would make their rebuilding harder.
“I have told donors that I hope what they are announcing is additional
resources because if it isn’t ...once [Ebola] is gone we will have no resources
to build healthcare systems and continue reconstruction,” Kaberuka told
Reuters on the sidelines of meetings in Washington of the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“We need to put new money on the table,” he said, adding that he
feared that once the crisis eased countries would be left without funding for
development projects earmarked before Ebola arrived.
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, has killed more than 4 000 people since March
in an epidemic centered around the three impoverished countries.
The outbreak has reverberated throughout the three countries’ economies,
hampering mining, disrupting the farming and service sectors and prompting
concerns that it will scare away the huge investment interested that existed
After getting off to a slow start, the international response to the Ebola
crisis has gathered steam with donors pledging hundreds of millions of dollars
Kaberuka has criticised the international response to the Ebola outbreak as
too little, too late.
“It was treated as a small, local public health problem in a remote
part of Africa with no global significance,” said Kaberuka, a former finance
minister from Rwanda. It should be treated just as SARS or mad cow disease were
and not as a disease of Africans, he said.
Kaberuka said it was vital that the aid money go through budgets of the
governments of the three countries to help them better coordinate the response.
The bulk of foreign aid was going toward supporting aid agencies, international
care and food supplies, he added.
“We need to make sure that the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and
Guinea have money in their budgets to pay health workers, to ensure they have
the ability to coordinate all of this,” he said.
“In a situation like
this there are so many little things happening but somebody has to tie it together
and that can only be a government.”
The AfDB itself has pledged $210-million to the three countries and is open
to putting more on the table if needed, said Kaberuka.
The region needed to quickly show it was in control of the situation to
maintain investor confidence, said Kaberuka.
But he said businesses also had to step up to help with logistics, including
cellphone companies, soft drink firms, and mining companies.
Screening starts at JFK
Medical teams at New York’s JFK airport, armed with Ebola
questionnaires and temperature guns, began screening travellers from three West
African countries on Saturday as US health authorities stepped up efforts to
stop the spread of the virus.
John F Kennedy Airport is the first of five US airports to start enhanced
screening of US-bound travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Nearly all passengers travelling to the United States from those countries
arrive at JFK, Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta. The new procedures will begin at the other four airports on Thursday.
Mohamed Dabo, a 22-year-old Indiana man who arrived at JFK from Guinea after
a stopover in Paris, said he was surprised by the intensity of the screening.
“I don’t really know what was going on in there but it was kind of
crazy,” he said. “I sat down there for two hours.”
The screenings, which will affect only a fraction of overall passengers
arriving at JFK, are being conducted by the department of homeland security’s customs and border protection (CBP), under direction of the centres for disease control and prevention (CDC).
There are no direct flights from the affected countries, so CBP staff
identify passengers to screen by looking at trip information and checking
passports, R Gil Kerlikowske, the CBP commissioner, told a news conference at
JFK on Saturday morning.
Using infrared temperature guns, staff are checking for elevated
temperatures among passengers whose journeys began or included a stop in one of
the three African countries.
Screeners will also assess passengers for signs of illness and ask about
their health and whether they may have come into contact with an Ebola
Buntouradu Bamgoura (54) who was born in Guinea and lives in the United
States, said she was handed a list of guidelines for screened passengers who
were allowed to enter. The sheet offers tips for self-monitoring and
instructions for doctors treating patients with Ebola-like
For those with a fever or other symptoms or possible exposure to Ebola,
the CDC said, authorities may decide to take a person to a hospital or
quarantine the patient.
In a sign of how serious US medical authorities view the prevention effort,
members of an NBC News crew who worked with a cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia
were ordered late on Friday by New Jersey medical authorities into mandatory
quarantine after failing to comply with a voluntary agreement to sequester
Meanwhile, the condition of the freelance American cameraman continues to
improve. At Nebraska Medical Centre, Ashoka Mukpo (33) has received the
experimental drug Brincidofovir and a blood transfusion from Dr Kent Brantly,
who earlier recovered from a bout with Ebola at an Atlanta hospital.
‘Stigmitising West Africans’
JFK is the entry point for nearly half the roughly 150 travellers who arrive
daily in the United States from the three West African countries, and those
passengers amount to about one-tenth of 1% of all international daily arrivals
at the airport, the CDC said.
Edward Lama Wonkeryor (60) a professor of communications and African studies
at a Liberian university, said going through the enhanced screening was
educational for him, but he said the push to staunch Ebola was
stigmitising West Africans.
“There seems to be an over-exaggeration of the impact of this deadly
disease where stigmatisation becomes apparent in the process,” Wonkeryor
said after a trip from Liberia via Brussels.
“That is wrong because this is a disease that can be controlled based
on what medical experts are telling us.”
The CDC said the airport screening is just one aspect of an overall strategy
to fight the spread of Ebola.
“No matter how many of these procedures are put into place, we can’t
get the risk to zero,” said Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s division
of global migration and quarantine. “This new entry-screening procedure is
just one part of a multi-layered approach,” he told the JFK news
That said, Lawrence Gostin, who teaches global health law at Georgetown Law
School, believes such monitoring “had virtually no effectiveness”
when used in Canada and Asia during the SARS outbreak in 2002. He said travellers
with a fever can evade detection by taking over-the-counter medication.
People also could lie on questionnaires, said Dr David Mabey, a professor at
the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “People may not fill
them in very truthfully. They don’t want to be delayed for hours,” Mabey
Passengers are also screened when they depart from the three West African
countries. In two months since those screenings began, only 77 of 36 000 travellers
were denied boarding, the CDC said. Many were diagnosed later with malaria,
none with Ebola.
Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola in Dallas this week, did not
have a fever when screened in Liberia before departure. He said on a
questionnaire that he had not been in contact with anyone infected with Ebola.
Liberian officials said he was in contact with a woman who later died. A friend
of his family said Duncan did not know the woman had Ebola. -
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