World Bank chief pleads for more medics to fight Ebola

  • AFP, Addis Ababa
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2014 22:26 IST

World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim made an impassioned plea on Tuesday for thousands more medics to help fight the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, saying it was a global crisis that needed a global response.

Kim also warned against knee-jerk panic in response to the highly contagious virus which has killed nearly 5,000 people in the outbreak centred in west Africa.

"This is not an African crisis... it is a global crisis," said Kim, who is visiting Ethiopia along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

"We'll need a steady state of at least 5,000 health workers from outside the region... those health workers cannot work continuously, there needs to be a rotation," Kim said.

"So we will need many thousands of health workers over the next months to a year to bring this epidemic under control."

The three worst-hit countries - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - are sorely lacking in medical infrastructure and funds due to a series of interlinked civil wars.

Liberia has been hardest hit by the outbreak, with 4,665 recorded cases and 2,705 deaths, according to the WHO, relying on figures however which are now 10 days out-of-date.

"We have done as much as we could up till now but I guarantee you we will do more," Kim said.

"The way to fight the Ebola epidemic is clear... the key is to get high quality services to both prevent new infections and treat those who are ill at the source of the epidemic."

Kim said medics should remember their vocation and the Hippocratic oath and not shy away from going to a problem area.

"Right now, I'm very much worried about where we will find those health workers," he said.

"With the fear factor going out of control in so many places, I hope that government and health professionals will understand that when they took their oath in becoming a health care worker it was precisely for moments like this."

He also underscored that the epidemic was confined to a corner of the continent and that Africa was by far and large a safe destination.

"So many people think that Africa is a country and unfortunately it sounds crazy saying it here, but out there in the world, a problem in three countries in west Africa has been interpreted as a problem in all of Africa," he said.

"I am here to emphatically state, that Africa is open for business."

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