Ebola must be treated as a Global Crisis Not a Local Problem, says WMA

The world needs to realize that Ebola is a global crisis and not simply a problem for West Africa, the World Medical Association said today.

In an emergency resolution adopted at their annual Assembly in Durban, South Africa, delegates from more than 40 national medical associations urged national governments to do much more to fight the viral disease. The resolution declared that evidence from those treating patients in affected communities was that a shortage of resources, including health care workers, personal protective equipment and beds, as well as poor ability to enact control measures, was making epidemic control difficult.

The Assembly called on the international community acting through the United Nations, its agencies and aid agencies, to immediately provide the necessary supplies of equipment to protect health care workers and ancillary staff and reduce the risk of cross infection. This must include adequate supplies of gloves, masks and gowns, and distribution must include treatment centres at all levels.

The emergency resolution commended those countries that had committed resources for the urgent establishment of new treatment and isolation centres in the most heavily burdened countries and regions and called on all nations to commit enhanced support for combatting the epidemic.

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, President of the WMA, said it was important that national medical associations contacted their national governments immediately to act on the proposals put forward by the WMA.

‘This includes measures to provide adequate training in infection control measures and urging national governments and international agencies to work with health care providers locally. Too often the experts on the ground say they are being ignored. We believe their voices must be heard.’

The WMA resolution also calls on national and local governments to increase public communication and community awareness about the disease, how it is spread and basic infection, and about control practices. The WMA also urges research into the timeliness and effectiveness of international interventions, so that planning and interventions in future health emergencies can be better informed.