WHO Ebola response chief says virus still spreading due to lack of change in behaviors

Monday, December 15, 2014
By Paul Martin

December 15, 2014

GENEVA – The failure of Sierra Leone’s strategy for fighting Ebola may be down to a missing ingredient: a big shock that could change people’s behavior and finally prevent further infection.

Bruce Aylward, the head of Ebola response at the World Health Organization, said Sierra Leone was well placed to contain the disease — its worst outbreak on record — with infrastructure, organization and aid.

The problem is that its people have yet to be shocked out of behavior that is helping the disease to spread, still keeping infected loved ones close and touching the bodies of the dead.

“Every new place that gets infected goes through that same terrible learning curve where a lot of people have to die … before those behaviors start to change,” Aylward told Reuters.

While neighboring Liberia has turned the tide of Ebola, and both Mali and Nigeria quickly smothered outbreaks, Sierra Leone has more than 70 percent of cases reported in the past three weeks and more than half the 18,000 confirmed cases in the nine-month-old outbreak.

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