The current outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa has been declared a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ by the World Health Organization. First identified in Guinea, it has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria – all in West Africa. The outbreak has led to a lot of concerns and anxieties around travel and associated risks in the region, despite the WHO clarifying that the risk of infection while travelling to West Africa is extremely low.
IAPB has been closely following developments around Ebola. While it has no eye care implications, it does affect travel, logistics and conference plans in the region. IAPB Africa has had to postpone a Workshop planned in Johannesburg – in South Africa – because of growing anxieties around Ebola. Travel bans (by airlines) to affected countries and the general atmosphere of anxiety and concern is having an out-size impact on our work and travel in the region.
We believe that the current outbreak of EVD is a serious public health concern. The WHO and its partners have now launched a multi-million dollar international strategy and we wish it all success. There are now travel restrictions on the four affected countries and their immediate neighbours.
It is important that we fully realise the extent of this outbreak – and its physical limitations. EVD is a fierce, rapidly lethal condition. But, it also seems to be limited to specific geographic contexts. IAPB is in touch with our members and partners across Africa and is watching the situation and working to understand its implications – if any – to our work.