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International response to Ebola: Travel bans, funding

International Response To Ebola: Travel Bans, Funding

Deaths from West Africa's Ebola outbreak, the deadliest outbreak in history, continue to rise as more people become infected everyday - so what are countries able to do about it?

Well, starting in West Africa - they're closing borders. According to Guinéenews, ​the afflicted nation announced Saturday its closing its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia in an attempt to stymie the influx of infected people in and out of the country.

Al Jazeera quotes the country's health minister as saying: "We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently."


The news the health minister is referring to is probably the recent statement from the World Health Organization labeling this Ebola outbreak an "extraordinary event" and calling for international aid.

"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries."

Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leon have all declared states of emergencies following the Ebola outbreak, putting limitations on civil liberties and closing public institutions like schools.

Airlines have started suspending flights to the ailing West African countries as well. CNN reports that British Airways and Emirates have stopped flights completely while others such as ASKY and Arik Air have started restricting flights.

And while travel restrictions don't really help the struggling nations, money might. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim appeared on CNN to explain the organization's $200 million pledge to the region.

"But the other thing we're trying to do is, we want to point out that this can happen to any country. What countries need is a functioning public health infrastructure."

On Friday, the European Union announced that it was expanding its aid to West Africa by $10.7 million, bringing its total aid to almost $16 million. It is also planning to deploy further medical aid to bolster the three countries' weak public health infrastructure.

So we have money, states of emergencies and travel restrictions. But what about that experimental serum used to treat the two Americans infected with Ebola?

​"I think we gotta' let the science guide us, and you know I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful." (Video via C-SPAN)

That was President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit responding to a question on whether or not he planned to send the experimental ZMapp drug used on two American patients to West Africa.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ZMapp is still in an experimental stage and only produced in a limited supply, so it's not quite ready to be used except under special circumstances.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did release a statement saying a vaccine was being developed with the assistance of the Department of Defense, but it's unlikely that we'll see anything out of that for at least another year.

While international governments and organizations figure out what to do about this deadly Ebola outbreak, individuals are feeling the impact of the devastating virus as well.

One of those individuals is Saah Kanda, who moved from Liberia to Charlotte, North Carolina 15 years ago. Between May and July, he has lost seven family members to Ebola in his home country. (Video Via WCNC).

In an interview with WCCB, Kanda blamed a lack of information for the deaths. "People have to be careful. You've got to be preventive, take sanitation as a priority. But people were not. They were in denial."

And Kanda isn't alone. The Washington Post covered local efforts by West Africans in the U.S. to raise awareness of the virus and donate medical supplies. Liberian officials had urged them to help educate those in the country, saying, "Please call your people in the villages, tell your people, even if they don't believe government officials. Ebola is real."

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