Ebola response too slow: Doctors Without Borders

MONROVIA, Liberia — The international response to Ebola is still too slow and piecemeal, Doctors Without Borders warned Tuesday, as officials said the disease is crippling the economies of the three West African countries hardest hit.

The number of people infected with Ebola has passed, 17,000, according to data published Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Of those, more than 6,000 have died. Emphasizing the severity of the outbreak, Sierra Leone announced that another doctor, its 10th, has tested positive for Ebola.

The vast majority of Ebola infections are in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, poor countries that have been left to handle the crisis without sufficient help, said Doctors Without Borders. It said foreign donors had concentrated on building clinics but did not provide medics to staff the centers. The group repeated its call for countries to deploy biological-disaster response teams.

In response to the crisis, the World Bank lowered again on Tuesday growth projections for the hardest-hit countries.

Guinea’s economy will grow just 0.5 percent this year, down from an expected 4.5 percent before the crisis, the bank said. Sierra Leone is expected to register 4 percent economic growth, down from a pre-crisis expectation of 11.3 percent, while Liberia will see 2.2 percent growth, down from 5.9 percent.

“We don’t need to wait till we get to zero (cases) to start working on the economic recovery,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said during a visit to Liberia Tuesday. The bank will support the farm sector to offset a drop in production.

Kim also plans to visit Sierra Leone and Guinea. The World Bank has pledged nearly $1 billion for the three countries.

In Sierra Leone Dr. Thomas Rogers has tested positive for the disease, said health ministry spokesman Jonathan Abass Kamara. Rogers was working at Connaught Hospital in Freetown.

He is being cared for at a special clinic in the Kerry Town treatment center for infected health care workers that is staffed by British army medics.

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