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Ebola a global crisis: WMA

Ebola is a global crisis and not simply a problem for West Africa, according to the World Medical Association (WMA) — which has adopted an emergency resolution on the situation.

The resolution passed at the WMA annual assembly in Durban, South Africa, was crafted by the Canadian Medical Association, British Medical Association and American Medical Association and adopted by delegates from more than 40 national medical associations.

The resolution urges national governments to do more to fight the viral disease, and declared that evidence from those fighting Ebola in affected communities shows epidemic control is proving difficult because of a shortage of resources, including health care workers, personal protective equipment and beds, as well as poor ability to enact control measures.

The WMA Assembly called on the international community, acting through the United Nations, to immediately provide the necessary supplies of equipment to protect health-care workers and ancillary staff and reduce the risk of cross-infection.

The resolution commends those countries that committed resources for the urgent establishment of new treatment and isolation centres in the most heavily burdened countries and regions.

“This is a global crisis requiring a global response,” said CMA President Chris Simpson, who is attending the assembly in Durban.

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, WMA president, said it is important that national medical associations contact their national governments immediately to act on the proposals put forward by the organization. “Too often the experts on the ground say they are being ignored. We believe their voices must be heard,” she said.

The resolution also calls on national and local governments to increase public communication and community awareness about the disease, how it is spread, basic infection information and control practices.

The WMA further urges research into the timeliness and effectiveness of international interventions, so that planning and interventions in future health emergencies can be better informed.

“Canada is at the forefront of the Ebola response, and we are contributing funds, expertise and equipment to the international efforts to fight this outbreak,” said a release from the Public Health Agency of Canada issued Oct. 6. “We have also deployed two teams of medical experts on the ground working in our mobile lab in Sierra Leone.”

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