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Anger at Ebola inaction

Tuesday November 4th, 2014

A "profit-driven" medical research industry neglected the threat of the Ebola virus for four decades, the world's leading health official said yesterday.

Speaking to an African audience, World Health Organisation director general Dr Margaret Chan said: "Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure? Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations.

"The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.

"WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves."

Dr Chan said that health workers who have died during the epic are some of the "greatest humanitarian heroes."

She added: "All of us must respect the compassion and courage of so many health workers who unselfishly risked their lives, and lost them."

She spoke as Sierra Leone lost a fifth doctor to the virus, Dr Godfrey George, medical superintendent of the Kambia government hospital.

The death led to the United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-Moon to appeal to the world's nations not to refuse aid to stricken health workers - or to place excessive quarantine restrictions on them.

He said workers with symptoms “should be immediately treated and supported."

Tags: Africa | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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