Health services falter as Kenya becomes Ebola risk

Thursday, August 14, 2014
By Paul Martin

Charlie Cooper
15th Aug 2014

THE “collapse” of healthcare systems in West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak could lead to thousands more people dying from malaria and other diseases, a leading expert has said, with the additional death toll from malaria and other diseases likely to exceed that of the outbreak itself.

Dr Jimmy Whitworth, the head of population health at the UK-based health foundation the Wellcome Trust, told The Independent that he was “increasingly pessimistic” about the capacity of health services in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to cope with the outbreak, and said he feared the breakdown of routine hospital and clinic services could lead to thousands of excess deaths from diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

West Africa, where more than 1,000 people have died of Ebola since February, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is currently in the middle of its rainy season and approaching the peak time for malaria transmission.

However, many clinics and hospitals in all three of the countries worst hit by Ebola have effectively been shut down by the virus. Meanwhile, widespread fear of contracting Ebola from hospital patients will stop people coming forward for treatment for other diseases, Dr Whitworth said.

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