Ebola Crisis in Africa Intensifies as U.N. Meets to Potentially Declare a Global Crisis
The World Health Organization opened a meeting to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Congo and Uganda should be declared a global emergency. So far, the virus has killed more than 1,400 people since the outbreak began in August, making it the second-deadliest in history.
To classify the outbreak as a global emergency, the outbreak must contribute a potential risk to other countries, upon which it would require coordinated support from international entities.
On-the-ground experts from both the WHO and the Center for Disease Control have yet to determine the origins of the outbreak. The WHO has met on two separate occasions this year regarding the severity of the situation, but both have resulted in officials remaining “moderately optimistic”, hoping that the outbreak will be contained.
This position has been undermined by the fact that the outbreak has occurred near the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan, causing concern that the virus is likely to spread into neighboring countries. This, coupled with the fact that local rebel groups have continued to attack aid groups, have made it increasingly difficult to contain the spread of the virus.
The last deadly outbreak of Ebola happened in 2014-2016, as it raged across West Africa, causing the deaths of thousands before the WHO declared it a national emergency. Officials were criticized for waiting too long before so, even after the virus had spread to three other countries.
As the virus continues to ravage the communities of these areas, it is clear that it is nowhere near close to being contained. Infection rates are still in the double digits for daily new cases of infection, and due to the lack of medical infrastructure, it has been difficult to establish a strong foothold in developing a containment zone.