In a recent Independent UK article the collapse of healthcare systems in Western Africa could have the potential to see thousands more die from the Ebola outbreak due to malaria and other diseases. An expert told Independent UK, that they suspect the death toll from malaria and other diseases will actually rise above the death toll from Ebola itself. The expert is Dr. Jimmy Whitworth and he states that he is not confident in the health services to handle the outbreak. Whitworth, the head of population health at Wellcome Trust, explained to the Independent that Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone may lack the ability to deal with the outbreak and that a breakdown in services at hospitals in these countries could lead to an “excess” of deaths from diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.
West Africa, at present, has seen over 1,000 deaths from the outbreak since the month of February and now it is in the middle of its rainy season, prime time for for malaria transmission due to mosquito breeding. It doesn’t look good for many of the hospitals either as many of them have been shut down because of the sheer impact of the virus. Furthermore, it appears that many people in need of treatment for other diseases are now avoiding hospitals to not be hit with the Ebola virus themselves.
The Ebola outbreak shutting down hospitals is coming at a horrible time. In any given year, even without an outbreak, 100,000 people can die from malaria in a single area. The World Health Organization is also taking great measures now. They are now calling for and authorizing experimental medicines that have yet to be tested on humans to combat the outbreak. Canada is sending an experimental Ebola vaccine to West Africa. Even though they are sending 1,000 doses, officials say that regardless if whether the vaccine works or not, it would take months for the vaccine to have a major impact.