The West African Ebola outbreak has taken its toll not only on affected countries but also on aid organizations, officials, international aid agencies and it seems that the problems are far from over. High-level discussions between international aid agencies and Liberian officials are overshadowed by communication difficulties as well as dissatisfaction with resource allocation.
Until now, the response against the deadly outbreak has involved a joint effort between national officials, international charities, donor and aid groups, the United Nations, the CDC and the WHO and it would seem that this effort has finally paid off: reports show that new cases are sharply decreasing in the last couple of months.
However, despite such contribution, countless cases still go unreported in the West African countries where fear of stigma seems to cloud patient’s judgments. On the other hand, stricken countries often refuse to erect field hospitals in optimal places or simply place them in wrong locations.
During a high-level meeting on Monday, serious issues came up for discussion. The New York Times obtained accounts of Monday’s meeting, where participants insisted that the atmosphere shouldn’t be regarded as chaotic. Although some may have characterized discussions as squabbles between Liberian officials, government organizations, aid groups and donors, attendees insisted that they were “collegial” and should prove “effective
One of the doctors in attendance was Dr. Kevin M. De Cock, senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who described the entire meeting as containing:
“differences of opinion — accompanied by passionate discussions.”
Despite these many apparent setbacks, the meeting did represent an excellent moment to discuss important logistical issues, such as hospitals not being able to isolate Ebola patients from regular ones, as well as the lack of ambulances or temperature takers without thermometers for some counties.
On the other hand, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted on November 12th that despite the many vehicles made available to Ebola stricken countries, it seems that there is always a shortage. In his mind, recipients are also accountable, not only donors.
Other issues were also discussed: for instance, helicopters being banned from flying back after having brought doctors to remote areas or from delivering blood samples which had to be transported by foot. Dr. De Cock insisted on Monday that such issues had to be amended.
In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security is permitting that West African citizens currently on U.S. territory remain under temporary protection. They will not face deportation and may apply for work permits for 18 months, an official statement of the Department of Homeland Security said.