The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is entering “a new phase” where big outbreaks of deadly diseases like Ebola are a “new normal.”
Previous Ebola outbreaks affected relatively small numbers of people. But the Democratic Republic of Congo is dealing with the second largest outbreak ever, just three years after the world’s largest one ended.
The WHO said countries and other world bodies needed to focus on preparing for new deadly epidemics.
So far, there have been 2,025 cases of Ebola in the current outbreak with most of them resulting in death from the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The largest outbreak, in West Africa in 2014-16, affected 28,616 people mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There were 11,310 deaths.
Yet the 12 outbreaks between 2000 and 2010 averaged fewer than 100 cases. So why are modern outbreaks so much bigger?
“We are entering a very new phase of high impact epidemics and this isn’t just Ebola,” Dr Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program said.
He said the world is “seeing a very worrying convergence of risks” that are increasing the dangers of diseases including Ebola, cholera and yellow fever.
He said climate change, emerging diseases, exploitation of the rainforest, large and highly mobile populations, weak governments and conflict were making outbreaks more likely to occur and more likely to swell in size once they did.
Dr Ryan said the World Health Organization was tracking 160 disease events around the world and nine were grade three emergencies (the WHO’s highest emergency level).
He went on to say, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a situation where we’re responding to so many emergencies at one time. This is a new normal, I don’t expect the frequency of these events to reduce.”
The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo continues to worry health officials. It took 224 days for the number of cases to reach 1,000, but just a further 71 days to reach 2,000.
He also said that countries and other world bodies needed to “get to grips with readiness and be ready for these epidemics.”
The Biblical Prophecies (Matthew 24, Revelation 6) foretell that pestilence is a sign of the Last Days revealing we are nearing the end of this age and the coming of Jesus Christ.
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