New Concerns Over Response to Ebola Crisis

New Concerns Over Response to Ebola Crisis

Doctors Without Borders, the medical charity that was among the first to react early and aggressively to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, expressed new concern on Tuesday about what it called a slow and uneven international response that portends further setbacks.

The tone of the warning, by Dr. Joanne Liu, the group’s international president, was pessimistic compared with an appraisal made on Monday by the World Health Organization, which said significant progress had been made in reversing the upward trajectory of the disease.

Dr. Liu acknowledged an outpouring of financial and construction help from abroad in the past few months. The United States has led the outpouring, and President Obama exhorted Congress on Tuesday to approve a $6.18 billion funding request.
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But Dr. Liu said most of the work of tracking, isolating and treating patients, burying the dead and raising awareness to minimize contagion had fallen to the three poor countries at the heart of the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Local doctors, nurses and charity workers, some lacking expertise, are still carrying an inordinate burden, she said. While Doctors Without Borders and other groups have offered training, she said, it can take weeks.

“We can’t let our guard down and allow this to become double failure, a response that was slow to begin with and is ill-adapted in the end,” Dr. Liu said in a statement posted on the organization’s website.

“It is extremely disappointing that states with biological-disaster response capacities have chosen not to utilize them,” she said. “How is it that the international community has left the response to Ebola — now a transnational threat — to doctors, nurses and charity workers?”

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