The Ebola outbreak risks unleashing an economic catastrophe that will leave a ‘lost generation’ of West Africans, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said.The president made a desperate appeal for help from every nation with the capacity to do so, describing the initial reaction as ‘inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency’.She said the international community had woken up to the global health risk posed by the epidemic but said her country had been brought to ‘a standstill’ and was desperate for funding and medical supplies.
We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola,’ President Johnson Sirleaf said in an open letter read on the BBC World Service.It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.’
She noted that Liberia and two other badly hit countries – Guinea and Sierra Leone – were already weakened by years of war.There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars,’ the leader said.She pointed out that Liberia once had 3,000 medical doctors, but by the end of its 1989-2003 civil war the country had just 36.
President Johnson Sirleaf insisted that the whole world had a stake in fighting the virus.She said: ‘This disease respects no borders. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.’
The total death toll of the Ebola outbreak, first detected in March deep in the forests of southern Guinea, has risen to more than 4,500, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).Although Senegal and Nigeria have been declared Ebola-free, the epidemic remains out of control in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.WHO warns that by December there could be as many as 10,000 new infections per week.