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Doctors Without Borders: 'World is losing the battle against Ebola'

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The international group Doctors Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is losing the battle against Ebola and lamented that treatment centers in West Africa have been "reduced to places where people go to die alone."

In separate remarks after a United Nations meeting on the crisis, the World Health Organization chief said everyone involved had underestimated the outbreak, which has now killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. U.N. officials implored governments worldwide to send medical workers and material contributions.

Meanwhile in Liberia, a missionary organization announced that another American doctor has become infected.

Doctors Without Borders, which has treated more than 1,000 Ebola patients in West Africa since March, is completely overwhelmed by the disease, said Joanne Liu, the organization's president. She called on other countries to contribute civilian and military medical personnel familiar with biological disasters.

"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it," Liu said at a U.N. forum on the outbreak. "Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered."

In Sierra Leone, she said, infectious bodies are rotting in the streets. Liberia had to build a new crematorium instead of new Ebola care centers.

At the U.N. meeting, WHO Director Margaret Chan thanked countries that have helped but said: "We need more from you. And we also need those countries that have not come on board."

Later at a news conference, she warned that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better.

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He discouraged the burial practice of directly touching the body of Ebola victims, which is one way the disease has been spreading.

"You can respect your traditions and honor your loved ones without risking the lives of the living," Obama said in the brief video message.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the situation is now the world's first Ebola epidemic, given how widely it is spreading.

The latest missionary to come down with the disease, a male obstetrician, was not immediately identified by the group Serving In Mission. The group did not specify how he contracted the disease, but it can be spread through vaginal fluids. He did not work in an Ebola ward.

A Liberian doctor on the missionary's treatment team said it was too soon to tell whether he will be evacuated. The doctor would speak only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters.

Last month, two Americans, including one from the same missionary group, were evacuated to the United States for treatment after contracting Ebola in Liberia. The two recovered after receiving an experimental drug known as ZMapp. The manufacturer says it has run out of supplies of the drug and it will take months to produce more.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday announced a $24.9 million, 18-month contract with Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. to speed development of ZMapp. As part of the project, Mapp is to make a small amount of the drug for early-stage safety testing, while working with the Department of Health and Human Services to accelerate the manufacturing process.

The outbreak has taken a particularly high toll on health care workers, and nurses in Liberia and Sierra Leone have repeatedly gone on strike to demand hazard pay and better protective gear.

On Monday, nurses at a major hospital in the Liberian capital went on strike, according to spokesman Jerald P. Dennis III. While JFK hospital is treating Ebola patients, the striking nurses were all from non-Ebola wards.

Information Minister Lewis Brown said late Tuesday that the dispute had been resolved, but Dennis said discussions were ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone government said nurses were back at work Tuesday after a strike at a Freetown hospital this weekend. The government has said it will pay out all accrued hazard pay and double the allowance going forward.

Also Tuesday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warned that food in countries hit by Ebola is becoming more expensive and will become scarcer because some farmers can't reach their fields.

Authorities have cordoned off entire towns in an effort to halt the virus' spread. Surrounding countries have closed land borders, and airlines have suspended flights to and from the affected countries. Seaports are losing traffic, restricting food imports to the hardest-hit countries.

Those countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - all rely on grain from abroad to feed their people, according to the U.N. food agency. For instance, the price of cassava root, a staple in many West African diets, has gone up 150 percent in one market in Liberia's capital, Monrovia.

"Even prior to the Ebola outbreak, households in some of the affected areas were spending up to 80 percent of their incomes on food," said Vincent Martin, who is coordinating the food agency's response to the crisis. "Now these latest price spikes are effectively putting food completely out of their reach."


DiLorenzo reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Mike Stobbe in New York; Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, Liberia; Clarence Roy-Macaulay in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Marc-Andre Boisvert in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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skydrop007 September 03 2014 at 5:43 AM

It seems everyone within Obama's administration under estimates everything.

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8 replies
jsinvent September 03 2014 at 6:18 AM

The Obama Administration told us Ebola was under control and it won't come here. Did we stop travel from ISIS or Ebola Nations? NO NO NO it wouldn't be Political Correct. The hell with Political Correctness. Close the US boarders and stop all student Visas from Muslim and Ebola Nations.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
9 replies
jojowhite320 September 03 2014 at 7:02 AM

quarantine the country. should have already been isolated.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
2 replies
ganderrrr jojowhite320 September 03 2014 at 12:17 PM

Which one? It's in 6 countries.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
kpsra jojowhite320 September 03 2014 at 12:29 PM

then all of them ganderrrr

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lichwala September 03 2014 at 9:24 AM

I volunteer Obama and Pelosi to West Africa..... anybody second that....

Flag Reply +18 rate up
4 replies
alfredschrader September 03 2014 at 4:36 AM

It's very sad but interesting how it originates in the very same places where the millions of scam emails originate from.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
SALTNEWS alfredschrader September 03 2014 at 1:05 PM

Isn't it very sad and interesting that everytime there is a huge outbreak of anything that could kill you off it is always in Africa.....The Richest continent on Earth....They should have just left us alone centuries ago and we would have been happy and successful but maybe that's what they were/are afraid of....smdh.

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pleiadas September 03 2014 at 6:45 AM

It occurred to me that the two Americans medical personnel who contracted Ebola, came home to the U.S. and were miraculously cured, may have just been a rouse. Somehow these two, who contracted this lethal disease were cured in two weeks because they came here to the U.S.? One has to wonder if that was just the door opener to bring hundreds of those suffering and dying of Ebola here to the U.S.. I don't believe anyone with the disease should be brought here when they can be treated where they are to contain the disease one locality.

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6 replies
jojowhite320 September 03 2014 at 6:51 AM

The countries have to be quarentined.
Should have already happened. No travel n or out.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
tobytina0011 jojowhite320 September 03 2014 at 11:00 AM

My husband works in Nigeria the borders are open there still.

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rphillipsalx September 03 2014 at 7:46 AM

Stop foolin' around with monkeeys Africans.

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1 reply
djeaninew1066 rphillipsalx September 06 2014 at 1:17 AM

That is how AIDS spread throughout the African Nations equally among men and women.

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Drew September 03 2014 at 8:23 AM

Amazing how just a few weeks ago they were saying their was no threat and the virus was contained.You can't believe anything these people say.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
ganderrrr Drew September 03 2014 at 12:18 PM

Nobody said that.

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cesmithiv Drew September 03 2014 at 1:27 PM

If you read the reports you would have known it was NOT contained. The news has never even said that it was. With a constantly incrasing death toll it seems obvious that it is not. Who are *these people* you refer to?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
george September 03 2014 at 6:30 AM

drop napalm on the entire area

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
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