USAID: Challenges And Small Victories In Liberia07:16
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The World Health Organization announced today that it botched attempts to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information.

In a document obtained by the Associated Press, the WHO says "nearly everyone" involved in the response failed to notice the potential for Ebola's explosive spread.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in the region with an estimated 8,900 more people currently infected.

The WHO said earlier this week that West Africa could face up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months, and that the death rate from the disease has risen to 70 percent.

USAID is in the region now, where the agency is overseeing $142 million worth of humanitarian projects to combat the outbreak, bringing the U.S. total up to more than $258 million.

Ben Hemingway, the deputy leader the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team in Monrovia, tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson the lack of high level clinical staff and the difficulty of accessing remote areas are among the biggest challenges officials face in stopping the virus' spread.

But there are positive steps.

Even though they are certainly challenged by this major outbreak, life goes on, and people have a better understanding of how to live their lives in a more safe manner.

Ben Hemingway

"Everyday we push forward, everyday we put in place more access to care and put the word out that things are improving, and there will be an end to this outbreak," Hemingway said.

The most important aspect, Hemingway says, is educating people about Ebola and how they can protect themselves.

"Information is always empowering, and Ebola has been a specter for the entire world," Hemingway said. "Liberia is a thriving and vibrant country, and even though they are certainly challenged by this major outbreak, life goes on, and people have a better understanding of how to live their lives in a more safe manner."

But there is good news in the region: Senegal and Nigeria have been declared Ebola free.

"They received the outbreak a little bit later in the cycle," Hemingway said. "They were able to target the center of the outbreak of each infectious node and contain it quickly, and we are all relieved and excited about Senegal being declared Ebola free, and I can tell you, we are all looking forward to the day we can say the same for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea."

Guest

This segment aired on October 17, 2014.

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