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To tackle Ebola: 10,000 local health workers needed – WHO

The UN health agency, World Health Organization or WHO says, it would need at least 500-600 experts with 10,000 local health workers to combat the deadly Ebola virus which has claimed over 2000 lives in the Mano River sub-region.

WHO director general Margaret Chan addressing a news conference in Geneva Friday said the key to beating the disease is people power. He said pledges of equipment and money are coming in, but 500-600 foreign experts and at least 10,000 local health workers are needed on the ground.

“The number of new patients is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them. We need to surge at least three to four times to catch up with the outbreaks,” Chan said.

The WHO boss said the number of new Ebola cases in the region is growing faster than authorities here can manage, while renewing a call for health workers from around the world to come to the region to help.

As the death toll rose to more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases, WHO director general Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva the vast scale of the outbreak — particularly in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — required a massive emergency response.

The Reuters news agency quoted Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for UNICEF,  as saying, the UN children’s agency was using innovative ways to tackle the epidemic, including telling people to “use whatever means they have, such as plastic bags, to cover themselves if they have to deal with sick members of their family”.

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“The Ebola treatment centers are full, there are only three in the country. Families need help in finding new ways to deal with this and deal with their loved ones and give them care without exposing themselves to this infection,” she said via phone from Monrovia.

“It is quite surreal and everywhere there is a sense of this virus taking over the whole country,” Crowe said. “We do not have enough partners on the ground. Many Liberians say they feel abandoned.”

Survivors of the disease, who are immune to reinfection, were being used to look after thousands of children of people with suspected Ebola. About 2,000 children have lost one or both parents in Liberia alone, she said.

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