Nearly 30 countries ‘highly vulnerable’ to Ebola-style epidemic

Wednesday, 4 March 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Pedestrians walk past a sign reading ''Ebola disease outbreak'' outside the Ministry of Finance in Monrovia in this file photo taken on 12 January, 2015 – REUTERS     LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Almost 30 countries around the world are “highly vulnerable” to an Ebola-style epidemic, with Somalia, Chad, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Haiti most at risk, a major charity said on Tuesday. An increasingly mobile global population makes deadly outbreaks more likely, with the emergence of two new diseases a year that can be spread between animals and humans making stronger health systems crucial, Save the Children said. The charity’s report comes as political and development agency leaders gather in Brussels to discuss the Ebola crisis that has killed nearly 10,000 people and infected almost 24,000 others, according to latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data. Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said a robust health system could have halted the rapid spread of Ebola through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia over the past year and saved thousands of children’s lives. He said it was now critical to bolster the health systems of other poor countries so they can deal with any Ebola-style outbreak, control new diseases and save the lives of up to 17,000 children a day who die of preventable conditions such as pneumonia and malaria. “The world woke up to Ebola but now people need to wake up to the scandal of weak health systems,” Forsyth said in a statement. To find countries most at risk of an Ebola-style outbreak, the charity compiled an index of the public health systems of the world’s poorest countries based on the number of health workers, government spending on health and mortality rates. Somalia ranked lowest with the index finding there is one health worker for every 6,711 people compared to one health worker for every 88 people in Britain. In Afghanistan, which was fourth lowest, public spending on health is $10.71 per person a year compared to more than $3,000 in Britain.