A deadly Ebola virus outbreak that has killed hundreds on victims in West Africa could rampage out of control, claim international health officials.
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Medical charities and government agencies allege the World Health Organisation (WHO) has suffered budget cuts because many of the world’s wealthier countries are contributing less money than in previous years.
More than 600 people have dies from the virus and the epidemic is starting to spread across borders.
So far fatalities have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while unconfirmed cases have been reported in nearby Mali and Chad.
“Lack of money weakens the frontline medical capabilities in poor countries,” said Scott Dowell of US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “The WHO has a budget of just under $4 billion – 12% down over the past two years.
Dowell claims 80% of wealthy countries have cut funding to the WHO.
This leaves poor countries unable to monitor disease outbreaks and a lack of resources to counter them.
“We just don’t have the money to deal with every outbreak and certainly would be in trouble if several different diseases hit in different places around the world at the same time,” said a WHO spokesman.
Ebola is transmitted to humans from diseased animals and then passes from person to person by transfer of fluids. Symptoms include a fever and internal bleeding. The fatality rate can be as high as 90%.
Gaza demos disrupt Euro travel
Expats and travellers in French and Belgian cities could face disruption from protests against Israeli military action in Gaza over the weekend.
Eurostar passengers could become embroiled in demonstrations at the Gare du Nord, Paris, and the Midi station in Brussels, warns the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Other demonstrations are planned for Lyon, Lille and Marseille.
“Expats and travellers should leave the area if they see demonstrators or security forces gathering,” said an FCO spokesman.
“In earlier demonstrations, bricks, bottles and petrol bombs were thrown at police and two synagogues in Paris city centre were vandalised.”
The protests could also affect anyone travelling to First World War centenary commemorations in France and Belgium.
“Battlefield visitors in Belgium should be aware unexploded munitions have been uncovered on some sites, so they should stick to clearly marked paths,” said the spokesman.
Train bomb explodes
A small bomb exploded on an underground train in the Chilean capital of Santiago, warns the FCO.
No one was injured, but expats and travellers are warned to take care and avoid unattended bags and packages in public areas.
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