Ebola outbreak: Liberia's health care system 'collapsing' amid epidemic

The number of trained doctors and nurses, already in critical short supply after years of civil war, is shrinking as medical workers get infected

The health care system in Liberia is collapsing as hospitals shut down and medical workers flee from the Ebola epidemic, Liberia's foreign minister has said.

Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan said diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea were going untreated because frightened Liberians were shunning medical centres.

He warned deaths resulting from normally treatable conditions could outstrip those from the Ebola virus by three or four times.

“People are dying from common diseases because the health care system is collapsing,” Mr Ngafuan said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is going to have a long-term impact, even after this crisis is behind us.”

But he said his biggest immediate concern was the spreading epidemic.

“We are hearing it is going to get worse before it gets better. We do not know how much worse that will be. My main worry is the fear of how many people will die. Right now it is out of control and jumps from place to place,” Mr Ngafuan said.

The number of trained doctors and nurses, already in critical short supply after years of civil war, is shrinking as medical workers get infected, quarantined or are afraid to report to work. The country entered the epidemic with only about 50 doctors for 4 million people, he said.

“What is happening is the entire health sector is being devastated by the crisis. It is not only a killer, but it kills those who care for them, and a good number of them are dying,” Mr Ngafuan said.

Video: Explaining Ebola

Overwhelmed, the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - stressed at a meeting on Monday with top-level US government officials, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Bank that a global response is critical, Mr Ngafuan said.

Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister Samura Kamara, in a separate interview in Washington, gave a similar message.

“This is a disease that is beyond the capacity of the three national governments. We need greater international awareness and support and it should be considered a global health crisis that needs a global response,” he said.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders