Ebola: WHO declares international health emergency

Scare in Delhi: three persons in Dwarka area of south-west Delhi are under watch for possible symptoms

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 08 August 2014


The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency. The announcement came as news spread about three persons in New Delhi being kept under watch for possible Ebola symptoms.

While declaring health emergency, the world health agency has stressed on need for coordinated international response to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola. 

BBC quotes WHO officials as saying the possible consequences is "particularly serious" because of the virulence of the virus.

The WHO announcement reportedly came after its experts had an emergency meeting in Switzerland to discuss the crisis. More than 930 people have lost their lives to Ebola in West Africa in 2014, which is the biggest epidemic so far ever since the disease was first identified in 1976.

The three people under watch in India are in Dwarka area of the national capital, according to reports. One of them was in the same flight from Ghana to India in July in which one Ebola patient was travelling. His two maids are also under watch. The health administration has been keeping watch on them since July 21.

 Director-General of Health Services, Jagdish Prasad, however, denied these reports. "If we find a suspected case, then we'll keep him in isolation in the airport hospital. We will not keep him inside his house," he said. The government has appointed six doctors and has created an ICU facility at Delhi airport in response to Ebola spread across borders.

The Union health ministry has, meanwhile, opened a 24-hour helpline--Emergency Operation Centre. It will be functional from Saturday, August 9. Its numbers are (011)-23061469, 3205 and 1302.

A couple of days ago, Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, had called an emergency meeting to discuss preparedness in case of an emergency

In the absence of any registered medicine or vaccine against the virus, the disease can become a challenge for administration.

The apex health body of the world is also looking into the option of using experimental treatment in the ongoing Ebola outbreak. Several experimental options are in the in the process of development. A meeting of medical ethicists is to be convened next week in this regard. 

“We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak. We have a disease with a high fatality rate without any proven treatment or vaccine,” says Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General with WHO. "We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is.”

The gold standard for assessing new medicine involves a series of trials in human volunteers on a small scale to make sure the medicine is safe to use. Then the trials are expanded to more people to see how effective it is, and how best to use it. 

(With inputs from Jyotsna Singh.)


Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.