The Genotype Test Bill: An attempt to curb Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria?

The Genotype Test Bill: An attempt to curb Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria?

Sickle Cell Disease is one of the most prevalent public health issues in Nigeria, which is known to have the greatest number of sickle cell disease patients per country in the world.

The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “Slightly above 300,000 babies globally are born with severe sickle cell disease. Seventy-five percent of that number, 225,000, are born in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria carries 66% of the burden in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a total of 150,000 babies born with severe sickle cell disease annually. Nigeria also bears 50% of the global burden.” This means that, globally, for every two babies born with the sickle cell disease, one is a Nigerian.

Two Nigerian senators are sponsoring a bill that would make it mandatory for couples to get genotype testing before they can get married, and before new births can be registered. The bill has passed the second reading, and is scheduled for public hearing.

            
Senators Ogembe (at bottom) and Omo-Agege (at up), who sponsored the Compulsory Haemoglobin-Genotype Screening Test Bill

Sponsored by Senator Ahmed Salau Ogembe (Kogi Central) and co-sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central), the bill is titled, “The Compulsory Haemoglobin-Genotype Screening Test” Bill. According to the bill’s sponsors, its objectives are threefold; to establish a clear legislative framework for effective management of sickle cell disease; to avoid human anxieties, pains and deaths associated with the disease and; to improve the lives of citizens who live with it.

Sickle–Cell Disease (SCD) is a genetic disorder that affects the haemoglobin within the red blood cells. It causes recurrent pains and complications that interfere with many aspects of a patient’s life including education, employment and psychological development. It is a life-long illness, meaning that a person with SCD will likely suffer its complications and recurrent pain for life. These effects are more manifest and often more severe when the condition is not properly managed.

Research has shown that only 5% of children born with SCD live past the age of 10 in Nigeria. In parts of the world where care is available for the condition, such as the United States, the life expectancy of a person with SCD is 40 – 60 years. This was not always the case. For instance, in 1973, the life expectancy of a SCD patient in the US was 14 years. What seems to have made the difference in that system is legislation making genotype testing compulsory, as well as SCD management programmes.

Senator Ogembe pointed out at the second reading of the bill that, “Every State in the U.S.A and the District of Columbia require that every baby is tested for SCD as part of their new-born screening program. Ghana and Togo also have screening programs for new-born babies.”

He said the heart of the bill was to address the prevalence of SCD in Nigeria. “This Bill is a direct response to Sickle Cell Disease, a disease that is no respecter of status and position,” he said, adding, “When it comes into a poor home, it worsens their plight; and when it comes into a rich home, aside from depleting their wealth, it wrecks emotional havoc. If we achieve more effective management of SCD by this Bill, then we have played our role well as our people’s representatives.

SENAMI OHIOMOKHARE OF THE JEPHTHAH OHIOMOKHARE SICKLE CELL FOUNDATION AND MRS TAMARA AHMED OGEMBE AT THE LAUNCH OF A CAMPAIGN TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE GENOTYPE TESTING BILL. THE CAMPAIGN IS TITLED “WHAT’S YOUR TYPE?”

He noted that Anambra in 2002 enacted a law mandating intending couples to undergo SCD testing before marriage, but pointed out that there is no uniform law on Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria. “This bill fills that lacuna,” he said.

According to a Vanguard Nigeria report, in a statement last year to mark Sickle Cell Day, Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano  reportedly said that his government would implement the State’s Sickle Cell Law. The report stated that couples who violate the law “would be denied certain privileges by the state government, adding that involving the churches would ensure strict compliance to the law. The governor said the state government would set up sickle cell clinics in the three senatorial districts of the state with state- of- the- art facilities and explained that people living with sickle cell disorder would be treated free of-charge under a Health Insurance Scheme that would be launched in the state soon.” Anambra State signed its Health Insurance Bill into law in June of this year, and has earmarked N200m for its Health Insurance Scheme.

THE JEPHTHAH OHIOMOKHARE SICKLE CELL FOUNDATION IS RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT THE GENOTYPE TESTING BILL. 

The Jephthah Ohiomokhare Sickle Cell Foundation in Abuja has partnered with Mrs. Tamara Ahmed Ogembe, wife of Senator Ahmed Ogembe, to raise awareness about SCD, and about the Bill. The Foundation was co-founded by Emmanuel and Senami Ohiomokhare, in memory of their first son Jephthah, who was a Sickle Cell Warrior. Jephthah Ohiomokhare passed away this year, at the age of 15. The Foundation and Mrs. Ogembe are currently advocating for young people to be knowledgeable about their genotype under the campaign #WhatsYourType?

Senami Ohiomokhare said the Genotype Test Bill is important because “it is big on prevention, making people go for compulsory testing. We have found out that people do tests and sometimes it comes out false, so the bill also ensures that people do their testing in government owned labs, so that the tests can be verified. The bill will also enforce that children from birth are screened and registered with their genotypes so that government can track children with sickle cell disease and make care and management of SCD available early.”

She said one major concern not addressed by the bill comes from those caring for or living with SCD. “The bill does open up a lot of other issues. There are people already living with SCD and they are more concerned about their current care. Medical personnel only treat them with general knowledge, and sometimes they accuse them of abusing their pain medication or pretending to be in pain. Most doctors are not trained on sickle cell management. We need to ensure that those living with sickle cell disease can access the specialist care they need. This is where hematologists come in. Right now in Abuja we only have one hematologist. We should have at least four in Abuja in secondary and tertiary health institutions.”

Ogembe and Omi-Agege’s Bill has 6 sections. Sections One and Two are on citations and requirements for SCD Testing for intending couples and new born babies. Section Three lists out the responsibility of certain persons, including registrars of marriages, and ministers in licensed places of worship, to advice and counsel intending couples on SCD testing before solemnization of marriage. Section Four is on offences and penalties under the Bill. Section 5 is on the responsibility of some government institutions and professional health bodies to sensitize the public about SCD testing under the Bill. Section 6 is the interpretation section.

The Compulsory Haemoglobin-Genotype Screening Test Bill is hinged on two existing laws in the National Assembly, namely, the Marriage Act and the Births, Deaths e.t.c. (Compulsory Registration) Act.

The bill has passed the second reading, and is slated to go to public hearing after the Senators’ recess.

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The man who brokered the deal to release the Chibok girls

Lawyer Zannah Mustapha, mediator for Chibok girls, speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters in Abuja, Nigeria May 8, 2017.Image copyright REUTERS

In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani profiles the lawyer who brokered the release of 82 women captured by Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

When 57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. They [the militants] brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Mr Mustapha says the girls started singing for joy when they got into Red Cross vehicles

He has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

The freed women will now have to rebuild their lives

“He had dealt with them in the past and they keep to their word,” he said.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

The 82 met the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari after they were rescued

Mr Mustapha then sought the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which began providing free meals to the pupils.

He also encouraged parents to form an association which would reach out to other widows and convince them to send their children to his school.

The ICRC soon extended its humanitarian services to the mothers, providing them free food and other items every month.

“This was at a time when the wives of Boko Haram militants were being arrested and their houses demolished, so Boko Haram saw me and the ICRC as neutral parties,” Mr Mustapha said.

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

The kidnapping provoked global outrage in 2014 including from Michelle Obama

When they were released in October 2016, she was chosen by Boko Haram to read out the names of the other 20 women from a list.

Mr Mustapha said the 21 women were lined up and asked by Boko Haram militants if they had been raped. They all said they were not.

When a militant approached a woman who was carrying a baby, she said that she was pregnant at the time of her abduction, having got married a few weeks earlier.

The baby girl in her arms, she said, was her husband’s child.

For some reason, Boko Haram, a group that has cultivated a reputation for brutality, wanted it to be known that it was only after the women “agreed” to get married that the militants had sexual relations with them.


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” Mr Mustapha said.


This process of lining up the women, pointing at each one and asking the same question, was repeated at the beginning of May when 82 more women were released.

One of about seven Boko Haram militants, who accompanied them, went from woman to woman asking: “Throughout the time you were with us, did anyone rape you or touch you?” Mr Mustapha said, adding that each of them replied in the negative.

None of the second batch of 82 captives came with a child.

But one had an amputated limb and was walking with crutches, an injury she sustained, according to what Mr Mustapha was told, during Nigerian military air strikes against Boko Haram.

‘They all ran’

“You are free today,” Mr Mustapha announced to the 82 women after all the names were called out.

“They all smiled,” he said.

He believes that their subdued reaction was as a result of the presence of the militants, all armed with guns, some wearing army camouflage uniforms and boots.

Mr Mustapha then took some photographs with the women. The militants also had their video camera on hand and recorded the event. ICRC vehicles eventually arrived.

“When I told them to go to the cars, they all ran,” Mr Mustapha said. “Immediately they entered the vehicles, they started singing for joy. Some shed tears.”

Mr Mustapha has received a number of accolades for his work with Future Prowess School. He was a finalist for the 2016 Robert Burns humanitarian award, given to those who have “saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through self-sacrifice, selfless service, hands-on charitable or volunteer work, or other acts”. He was also given a 2017 Aurora Prize Modern Day Hero award, for those whose “life and actions guarantee the safe existence of others”.

However, he described handing over the 82 freed girls to the Nigerian government as “the highest point in my life”.

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” he said.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa

Unmasking Zannah Mustapha and The 82 Freed Chibok Girls

BBC, London:

Zannah Mustapha has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. The militants brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

bk1

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

Source: NTA

Bill Gates Just Dropped This Life-Changing Advice: ‘Start Fighting Inequality’

By Meghan Werft|

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

 

Want to be the next Bill Gates? Good news — Gates does, too. And earlier this week, he tweeted 14 lessons he wish he had learned earlier in life to help you — and college grads — get there.

His advice was not focused on wealth, or how to become more intelligent. Instead, Gates’ message centered on how to make a positive impact in the world.

An understanding of inequality and a belief in peace were central to his message, which was aimed at recent graduates. He said it took him decades to appreciate both.

“I also have one big regret: When I left school, I knew little about the world’s worst inequities. Took me decades to learn,” he tweeted. “You know more than I did when I was your age. You can start fighting inequity, whether down the street or around the world, sooner.”

Sprinkled with humor, Gates’ asks readers not to associate his advice with the likes of  stuffy adults from the film “the Graduate.”

He reveals the “promising fields” he’d pick as young person today: artificial intelligence (AI), biosciences, and presumably renewable energy, where people can make the biggest impact.

3/ Looking back on when I left college, there are some things I wish I had known.

4/ E.g. Intelligence takes many different forms. It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think.

He also shared his belief that the world is more peaceful than ever. And if you don’t believe him, he recommends picking up a copy of “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” by Canadian-American psychologist Steven Pinker.

Gate’s endorsement of the book has caused Amazon orders to spike since his tweet on Monday. The book is 650,000% more popular than before Gates’ tweet, Washington Post reports. It rose to number two on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” list overnight.

He also included shoutouts to Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self.” he shared “As Melinda Gates does for me.”

“Like Warren Buffett I measure my happiness by whether people close to me are happy and love me, and by the difference I make for others,” he said.

Gates’ advice is being taken to heart not just by recent grads, but by global citizens everywhere.

1/ New college grads often ask me for career advice. At the risk of sounding like this guy…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dug-G9xVdVs 

@BillGates Thanks for all you & @melindagates have been doing in the world. Words or tweets cannot convey the gratitude to the good you’re doing.

Read More: Melinda Gates Is Fighting Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Cuts

@BillGates Sir,You and Steve Jobs are my greatest inspiration.Whenever situations hit me hard I think about you two, Read your quotes… Works always🙏🙏

And if you already believe the world is more peaceful today than ever in the course of history, and that the world is getting better — you’re basically smarter than a young Bill Gates.

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Why You Should Absolutely Never Drink Bottled Water Again

Konstantin Stepanov/Flickr

 

The bottled water industry is about as wasteful as they come. This billion dollar industry is taking something that is essentially free around the world, packaging it, and selling it for profit. And it gets worse.

Nestlé — the same company that brings you those delicious Toll House cookies — decided in May to open a new plant in the middle of the drought-stricken desert in Arizona.

This decision has raised many concerns and questions, the most obvious being “how can they bottle water in a desert?”

Many of the concerned groups are environmental activists. Nestle has already faces backlash from groups angry about them bottling water in the San Bernardino Mountains, and a group in Oregon voted in favor of anti-bottling measures on a proposed anti-bottling measures.

Additionally, a petition was started on Change.org calling Nestlé Waters “irresponsible and unsustainable,” pointing out that Arizona has officially been in a drought for 17 years.

City officials concluded that there will be enough water for both Pure Life and the city’s tap, but environmentalists (and Global Citizens) aren’t convinced.

The bottled water industry is bad for the environment. Nearly 80 percent of plastic water bottles simply become litter in a landfill, creating 2 million tons of plastic bottle waste every year. Here are 10 things you might not know about the bottled water industry.


  1. The first case of bottled water sold dates back to Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1760s. Mineral water was bottled and sold by a spa for therapeutic uses.
  2. For the first time ever, bottled water sales are going to surpass the sale of soda in the US.
  3. Global consumption of bottled water increases by 10 percent every year. The slowest growth is in Europe, while the fastest growth is in North America.
  4. The energy we waste bottling water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.
  5. Food & Water Watch reported that more than half of bottled water comes from the tap.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BG5AELuzc6q/embed/?cr=1&v=7#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A230616.99500000002%7D

  6. Bottled water is no safer than tap water. In fact, 22 percent of bottled brands tested contained chemicals at levels above state health limits in at least one sample.
  7. It takes three times more water to produce a plastic water bottle than it does to fill one.
  8. The amount of oil used to make a year’s worth of bottles could fill one million cars for a year.
  9. Only one in five plastic bottles are recycled.
  10. The bottled water industry made $13 billion in 2014, but it would only cost $10 billion to provide clean water to everyone in the world.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BGu4j6sGhLo/embed/?cr=1&v=7#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A230626.99500000002%7D

This Refugee Is Building 25 Permanent Homes From Recycled Plastic Bottles

By Phineas Rueckert| 

https://www.instagram.com/p/25dDJDvKH5/embed/?cr=1&v=7#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A135157%7D

It is a common proverb that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and in Algeria, one refugee is showing the truth behind this saying.

Tateh Lehbib is an engineer and a Sahrawi refugee. At 28, Lehbib has been a refugee his entire life, one of more than 165,000 Sahrawis displaced from their native Morocco by the Western Saharan War that began in 1975. The majority of the Sahrawis now live in five encampments in southern Algeria.

The idea to build plastic bottle homes came out of Lehbib’s desire to provide shelter for his grandmother in a desert region that can get hotter than 110 degrees Fahrenheit and is also susceptible to heavy rain.

“I wanted her not to suffer so much from the heat, and to lead a better, more comfortable life,” he told the Middle East Eye.

The first of his shelters was made from 6,000 plastic bottles, which are filled with sand and straw, layered one on top of the other, and held together with cement mix. The plastic bottles are then covered with an additional layer of cement and limestone and painted white to reduce the impact of the sun’s rays.

According to the Middle East Eye, these structures cost about one-quarter of what it would cost to build a similar structure from mud-brick, which can cost up to €1,000 to construct. And they are 20 times more resistant, Lehbib emphasized.

The positive environmental impact of these structures is not to be ignored. At 6,000 bottles per structure and with 25 structures being built, thanks to a grant from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, the initiative will recycle around 150,000 plastic bottles in total. That’s 150,000 plastic bottles that won’t end up in landfills, or in the world’s oceans, into which between 5 and 13 million metric tons of plastic already end up each year.

The initiative is also providing employment and education opportunities for some of the youth in the five Sahrawi camps, ThinkProgress reports, and inspiring others to get involved in collecting and reusing bottles.

“My son Alwali, a shepherd, wants to construct a similar one in the countryside of Western Sahara,” one woman told ThinkProgress.

Lehbib, for his part, hopes to be able to expand his bottle house project to other, larger communities. But he’s got a way to go before he can take the crown of most prolific bottled-house builder. Another man, in Panama, is already on his way to building an entire village out of plastic bottles.

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Suspected Cases of Ebola Rise to 29 in Democratic Republic of Congo

Medical workers treating a patient suspected of having Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.CreditAscale Zinten/Doctors Without Borders, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The number of suspected cases of Ebola has risen to 29 from nine in less than a week in an isolated part of Democratic Republic of Congo, where three people have died from the disease since April 22, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The W.H.O. was criticized for responding too slowly to an outbreak in West Africa in 2014 that left more than 11,000 people dead, and Dr. Peter Salama, the executive director of the organization’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing that it was essential to “never, ever underestimate Ebola” and to “make sure we have a no-regrets approach to this outbreak.”

The risk from the outbreak is “high at the national level,” the W.H.O. said, because the disease was so severe and was spreading in a remote area in northeastern Congo with “suboptimal surveillance” and limited access to health care.

“Risk at the regional level is moderate due to the proximity of international borders and the recent influx of refugees from Central African Republic,” the organization said, but it nonetheless described the global risk as low because the area is so remote.

About a week ago, in addition to the nine suspected cases, 125 patients who had come into close contact with the disease were being monitored. Now about 400 patients are being followed, even as nine new cases were reported on Thursday, according to the W.H.O.

The Ebola virus causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, and it spreads easily by contact with bodily fluids. The death rate is high, often surpassing 50 percent, particularly with the Zaire strain, which has been confirmed in two cases in this outbreak.

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The outbreak was reported in a densely forested part of Bas-Uele Province, near the border with the Central African Republic. Cases have occurred in four separate parts of a region called the Likati health zone.

Aid groups and the W.H.O. have struggled to reach the affected area, which has no paved roads.

The first known case occurred on April 22, when a 39-year-old man who had fever, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding died on the way to a hospital in the Likati zone. The person caring for him and a motorcyclist who transported him also died.

The first six months of the response to the outbreak are expected to cost the W.H.O. and aid groups $10 million, Dr. Salama said at the briefing. He said telecommunications networks would have to be established and airstrips repaired so that aid workers can provide the necessary medical care.

The W.H.O., aid groups and the Congolese government are discussing the possibility of using an experimental Ebola vaccine, made by the American pharmaceutical company Merck, that proved effective in Guinea.

The response would involve a “ring vaccination,” in which contacts of patients, contacts of contacts, and health workers would be vaccinated. There would be no mass public vaccination.

The vaccine has not yet been licensed, and its use would require permission on several fronts. Nonetheless, Dr. Salama said that if permission were granted, the vaccine could be made available in a week or so. Other experimental antiviral drugs may also be considered.

The Ebola virus is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where eight outbreaks, the largest involving about 300 patients, have been recorded since 1976.

Inside Hospital’s Ebola BattleAt the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, health care workers struggle to contain the Ebola epidemic, which has killed almost 1,000 people across West Africa.

The country “has considerable experience and capacity in confronting these outbreaks,” Dr. Daniel Bausch, an Ebola expert at the W.H.O., said in an email. He added, “I think there is a very good probability that control can be rapidly achieved.”

Dr. Salama said that aid workers had reached a town in the Likati zone, which was as close as they had been able to come to the epicenter of the outbreak. He said aid groups were setting up centers for treatment and isolation, and mobile labs. The first aid group to arrive was the Alliance for International Medical Action, which was already in the region, responding to cholera.

In a telephone interview from Conakry, Guinea, the group’s executive director, Matthew Cleary, said that seven people who were believed to have contracted Ebola had been taken to a district hospital in the Likati zone that was not equipped to deal with the virus.

“It’s urgent to get them into a proper isolation center,” Mr. Cleary said, adding that the group is preparing to build a treatment unit. It will include windows that allow families to see patients, a response to past outbreaks in which people sometimes shunned sealed-up isolation units into which patients seemed to disappear.

Brienne Prusak, a spokeswoman for Doctors Without Borders, said on Wednesday that the group had sent a team of about 20 doctors, nurses and other experts to the Likati zone, and that it was still trying to figure out how to reach the epicenter.

“Transport is extremely difficult in the area, and helicopter flights may be the only way to get there,” she said by email. “We considered motorbikes but are now thinking of helicopters because we need to get so many materials there. We’re expecting to get to the epicenter by the weekend.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States is also sending an Ebola expert, Dr. Pierre Rollin, to Congo, along with epidemiologists, a spokeswoman said.

Correction: May 18, 2017
An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to treatment units for Ebola being built by the Alliance for International Medical Action. While a unit is planned, construction has not yet begun.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com

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