Top UN Ebola official: new cases poorly tracked
KAMPALA, (AP): Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the UN's top Ebola official in West Africa said yesterday.
"The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it's spreading and where we need to target our resources," Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is based.
Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health-care workers can't do that if they don't know where new cases are emerging.
"And unfortunately, we don't have good data from a lot of areas. We don't know exactly what is happening," said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.
Banbury, who visited the three most affected countries last week, said it was "heartbreaking" to see families torn apart by Ebola as they struggle to care for sick loved ones while also hoping to avoid infection. He said he is hoping for a new approach in Liberia as the UN and its partners work to improve the capacity of communities to safely bury victims.