The international group Doctors Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is losing the battle against Ebola and lamented that treatment centers in West Africa have been “reduced to places where people go to die alone.”
In separate remarks after a United Nations meeting on the crisis, the World Health Organization chief said everyone involved had underestimated the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. U.N. officials implored governments worldwide to send medical workers and material contributions.
Meanwhile in Liberia, a missionary organization announced that another American doctor has become infected.
Doctors Without Borders, which has treated more than 1,000 Ebola patients in West Africa since March, is completely overwhelmed by the disease, said Joanne Liu, the organization’s president. She called on other countries to contribute civilian and military medical personnel familiar with biological disasters.
“Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Liu said at a U.N. forum on the outbreak. “Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered.”
In Sierra Leone, she said, infectious bodies are rotting in the streets. Liberia had to build a new crematorium instead of new Ebola care centers.
President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He discouraged the burial practice of directly touching the body of Ebola victims, which is one way the disease has been spreading.
“You can respect your traditions and honor your loved ones without risking the lives of the living,” Obama said in the brief video message.