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Ebola Crisis of 2014

On 26 December 2013, a twoyearold boy in a remote Guinean village fell ill with a mysterious illness. Two days later, the child died—the first victim of the Ebola Crisis of 2014. Erupting near the junction of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where people regularly move across the borders, the Ebola virus spread undetected for more than three months.3

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal, illness in humans. Wild animals transmit the virus to people, who then spread EVD through human-to-human contact. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 %. Although supportive care improves survival, there is currently no proven treatment to neutralize the virus.4

Guinea first confirmed the Ebola outbreak in March 2014. This outbreak became the largest, most complex EVD outbreak since the discovery of the virus in 1976. The countries most ravaged by the outbreak were Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These nations “struggle to meet the basic health needs of their people, let alone deal with an emergency this complex”.5 On 8 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the West Africa EVD outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.6

The worst of the outbreak appears concluded. Human-to-human transmission linked to the primary outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ceased in January 2016.7 However, since that declaration, there have been small-scale flare-ups in Liberia and Guinea. The WHO has stressed that flare-ups of Ebola are likely to occur for some time, due to virus persistence in some survivors.8 As of 30 March 2016, the WHO reported 28,646 persons either confirmed or suspected of being ill with EVD. Of those, 11,323 persons died. Over 10,000 persons survived.9

In the recent outbreak, thousands of people lost their lives to EVD. Yet, the number of lives lost pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands that died in South Africa due to HIV/AIDS during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency. Mbeki’s response to HIV/AIDS is one of the factors explored in the persona that conceived The African Renaissance Statement.

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