ACCRA, Ghana, July 3 (UPI) -- Some African cultural practices and traditional beliefs have stifled the fight against the spread of the Ebola virus in western Africa, a World Health Organization leader said Thursday.
Speaking at an emergency conference of government ministers in Accra, Ghana, convened to address the outbreak of the virus, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO's regional director, said traditional beliefs are often contrary to recommended public health policies. The disease caused by the virus is spreading to countries outside the currently affected region of West Africa, he noted. A total of 750 cases, and 455 deaths, have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
"For the first time the Ebola virus is circulating in both urban and rural communities. If care is not taken, the current trend of Ebola and potential risk of cross-border and international spread would constitute a major public health concern," Sambo said.
Sambo called for better communication between governments and communities to produce reliable data and appropriate actions.