West Africa says halting Ebola outbreak hindered by fear, lack of resources and funds

By Kyle Johnson,

West African health ministers spoke on Wednesday about the struggle to stop the Ebola outbreak and how it is due to a general lack of resources and money, along with cultural suspicions toward the virus itself.

Money is so tight for the proper equipment and drugs that Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma and his cabinet members have agreed to donate half their salaries towards needed supplies and worker pay, Reuters reports.

Sierra Leone has an extremely poor health care system, while those in Guinea are worried about violence towards health care providers. The Red Cross had to recently halt attempts to help the sick and infected after an official said they were surrounded by "Locals wielding knives."

The West African nations are scared of the disease and some are under the belief that aid workers are responsible for the virus that has already killed 467 people through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Another part of the problem is that many don't actually believe that Ebola actually exists, leading them to go through traditional funerals, which involves close contact with the body.

"In Liberia, our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic," deputy health minister Bernice Dahn said. "People are afraid but do not believe that the disease exists and because of that people get sick and community members hide them and bury them, against all the norms we have put in place.

With more than 635 reported cases of Ebola in the three West African nations, the World Health Organization has urged for a more comprehensive and immediate response from other nations.

Dr. Luis Sambo, WHO regional director for Africa, has said that there is a legitimate worry that the virus will continue to infect and there is a chance of "cross-border transmission" with how things are currently going.

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