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WHO: Ebola "most severe acute emergency" in modern times

By Ed Adamczyk
WHO: Ebola "most severe acute emergency" in modern times
Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. UPI/Monika Graff | License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Dr. Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization referred to the Ebola virus outbreak in acute terms Monday, noting the global lack of preparation.

She referred to it, in a statement delivered on her behalf to a Manila, Philippines, conference, as "unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times," calling it "a crisis for international peace and security."

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"I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure."

Her comments were also released Monday from her Geneva, Switzerland, office.

Over 4,000 people, largely in West Africa, have died from the Ebola virus, estimates by WHO said last week. Chan added the figure was rising "exponentially."

She noted inadequate health care systems in poor and developing countries can impact health around the world, noting "the dangers of the world's growing social and economic inequalities. The rich get the best care. The poor are left to die." She added a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry had no incentive to develop vaccines or other medication against the Ebola virus when it first emerged 40 years ago.

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"The world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained and threatening public health emergency."

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