WHO sends extra medics to Mali as EU pledges more funds to fight Ebola
The World Health Organization is sending additional medical experts to Mali to help the West African country prevent the spread of Ebola after its first confirmed case, a spokesman said Friday.
A 2-year-old girl was diagnosed with the disease Thursday, having been brought into the country from neighboring Guinea, where the current catastrophic outbreak is believed to have started.
Local authorities say they are monitoring 43 people who had contact with the infected child, said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.
They include 10 medical workers who came into contact with her in the town of Kayes, west of the capital city of Bamako, he said.
The extra WHO medical experts are being sent immediately to Mali to help its Ministry of Health respond, said Jasarevic. They will bolster a WHO team that was already in the country to help with general preparedness.
At the same time, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced on Twitter that the European Union will increase its aid to help West Africa fight Ebola by $380 million to $1.2 billion.
The EU had pledged 700 million euros, and boosted its pledge to 1 billion euros.
Family members hospitalized
The girl in Mali, whose father died of Ebola, was taken to the hospital in Kayes after a nurse noticed she was suffering from what appeared to be Ebola-like symptoms. A test confirmed the girl had Ebola, Health Ministry spokeswoman Markatie Daou said Thursday.
“The girl is still in the hospital in Kayes together with members of her family who might have been exposed to the virus,” she said.
The confirmed case in Mali makes it the sixth West African country to be hit by the virus, which WHO reported has killed more than 4,800 people. Nigeria and Senegal have in recent days been declared free of the disease, however.
Ousmane Kone, Mali’s minister for public health, called for people in Kayes to “stay calm” and observe “hygiene measures.”
He asked anyone who’d had contact with the girl to contact authorities.
Speaking at a media briefing after a meeting of a WHO emergency committee, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general, said the organization was continuing to pursue a plan to break the chain of transmission that relies on isolating 70% of Ebola cases and safely burying 70% of those who die.
WHO hopes “to begin to see a so-called bend in the curve” by the beginning of December, he said.
“It’s clear that it remains quite a challenge right now. We see the numbers still going up. We still see an extensive effort trying to catch up to that curve and then get beyond the curve, but this is what we’ve been targeting, and that remains true now.”
WHO announced earlier this month that vaccine trials are expected to begin in West Africa in January.
The initial vaccine tests are being given to volunteers in countries such as Mali, the United States and Britain.