World


WHO deliberates ebola drugs ethics as quarantine zones set up


Ward physician Thomas Klotzkowski, right, cleans doctor for tropical medicine, Florian Steiner, in a disinfection chamber at the quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases at the Charite hospital in Berlin on August 11, 2014. The isolation ward at the Charite is one of several centres in Germany equipped to treat patients suffering from ebola and other highly infectious diseases, the Steiner said. Ebola is one of the deadliest diseases known to humanity. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter


Geneva: As the world scrambles to stem the rapid spread of the killer Ebola virus, the World Health Organisation hosted a meeting on Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental drugs.

The talks come as countries ravaged by the tropical disease in west Africa were gripped by panic, with drastic containment measures causing transport chaos, price hikes and food shortages, and stoking fears that people could die of hunger.

370 dead in Liberia

Liberia, where Ebola has already claimed over almost 370 lives, placed a third province, Lofa, under quarantine yesterday after similar measures in Bomba and Grand Cape Mount.

"From now on, no one will be allowed to go to Lofa, no one will come out of there," President Ellen Johnson Sirfleaf said. "We want to protect areas that have not been yet affected."

There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, one of the deadliest viruses known to man, and with the death toll fast approaching 1,000, the WHO has declared the latest outbreak a global public health emergency.

But the use of experimental drugs has opened up an intense ethical debate, and medical experts from around the world joined WHO-hosted discussions yesterday to draft guidelines for using non-authorised medicines in emergencies such as Ebola.

Two Americans and a Spanish priest infected with the virus while working with the sick in Africa are being treated with an untested drug called ZMapp, which has reportedly shown promising results.
But the drug, made by private US company Mapp Pharmaceuticals, is still in an extremely early phase of development and had only been tested previously on monkeys.

Controversy

ZMapp is in extremely short supply, but its use on Western aid workers has sparked controversy and demands that it be made available in Africa, where Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the hardest hit nations.

"Is it ethical to use unregistered medicines to treat people, and if so, what criteria should they meet, and what conditions, and who should be treated?" said WHO assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny ahead of yesterday's meeting.

"What is the ethical thing to do?"

While impoverished Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone account for the bulk of the cases, the latest outbreak has spread further afield. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has so far counted
two deaths.

Numerous countries have imposed a raft of emergency measures, including flight bans or screening of passengers.

In the latest such move, the Ivory Coast announced yesterday it was banning all flights from the three hardest-hit nations.


Share 

 Rate this Article
Rates : 0, Average : 0

Share more.

Post a Comment

Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name : Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:
 
No Comments Posted