Ebola update: Need grows for trained providers

December 9, 2014

The Ebola outbreak in Africa still needs trained providers and health professionals to care for patients and contain the disease

While public concern over an Ebola outbreak has waned in the United States, worldwide cases have now exceeded 17,000 with deaths topping 6,000, and containment efforts are being hampered by fears of spread and a slow international support for containment.

READ MORE:What physicians need to know about Ebola

Doctors Without Borders says while the hardest-hit countries in West Africa have all received some sort of aid for their Ebola fights, most of the aid focuses on financial help and building medical structures. Yet little of the aid has provided help in the form that is need most-trained professionals to care for the sick and contain the spread of the disease.

New hospitals and clinics stand empty or are underused because there simply aren’t sufficient numbers of trained personnel to staff them.

Even in its own recruitment efforts, Doctors Without Borders is having a difficult time finding physicians willing to go help sick patients in Africa, most likely because of the stigma and quarantine hassle attached to those providers upon their return.

In Liberia, thousands of U.S. soldiers are working to process blood samples to identify any individuals free of the disease who can be separated from the sick population. President Barack Obama is also pressing for another $6.2 billion in emergency funding to fight Ebola. Three treatment units and a hospital have already been opened by the U.S. in Liberia, and 200 U.S. civilians and 3,000 troops are working to combat the outbreak across West Africa.

On the domestic front, 35 hospitals are now equipped to handle Ebola patients nationwide-most of them clustered around the only five airports authorized to accept patients from Ebola-positive West African nations.

The National Institutes of Health is also testing an Ebola vaccine, and found no serious side effect in initial safety studies. Larger studies in West Africa are planned following signs of immunity protection among 20 volunteers.