Sierra Leone angered by Ebola crisis criticism

Fighting the Ebola virus. Sierra Leone has reacted angrily to claims of not doing enough to contain the spread of the deadly epidemic. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Sierra Leone has reacted strongly to claims of a lack of political will in tackling the West African Ebola epidemic.

It followed a warning on Friday by a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) official that the disease had gone "totally out of control" in the region, yet governments and WHO were not doing enough to contain it.

The deadly viral haemorrhagic fever, which first reared its ugly head in the region some four months ago, has claimed over 330 lives.

From Guinea where it first emerged, it spread to Liberia and then lately Sierra Leone.

The rare behaviour of the disease, slowing down and then re-emerging, has particularly fascinated medical authorities in Sierra Leone.

Added to the confusion is the fact that the outbreak was occurring in multiple locations which further complicated efforts to control it.

MSF Operations Director Bart Janssens said every indication pointed to the fact that the worst was yet to come.

And he thinks while governments were refusing to accept the gravity of the situation, WHO was not pushing them hard enough.

Combat the disease

"There needs to be a real political commitment that this is a very big emergency. Otherwise, it will continue to spread, and for sure it will spread to more countries," he warned.

MSF is just one of few organisations with staff on the ground in the three affected countries and said it was struggling to cope, having been stretched to the limit.

The organisation wants to see increased sensitisation and more local staff in the field.

While Guinea and Liberian authorities were dealing with resurgences, most of the pressure was currently on the Sierra Leonean side of the borders where the death toll was at least 26 as of Friday.

A state of emergency imposed on the eastern district of the country where most of these cases were concentrated, was still in place.

Given all what the government had done in terms of sensitisation, any suggestion of a lack of political will was unfair, said Mr Theo Nicol, the Deputy minister of Information and Communications.

He added that if the disease was out of control, it would be the responsibility of every stakeholder involved.

"We should all share the blame and later on share the credit when we finally combat the disease, which will be soon."

But reports from the hotspot of the outbreak indicated a worsening situation.

The Health ministers of the three neighbouring countries were currently gathered in the Guinean capital, Conakry, for talks on tackling the outbreak.

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