Director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan said Wednesday that she saw no signs of an early end to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has killed over 1,300 people since March.
"No one is talking about an early end to the outbreak," Chan wrote in a perspective article in the U.S. journal New England Journal of Medicine. "The international community will need to gear up for many more months of massive, coordinated, and targeted assistance."
Chan said what makes the outbreak so large, so severe, and so difficult to contain is poverty.
"The hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, are among the poorest in the world," she said. "They have only recently emerged from years of conflict and civil war that have left their health systems largely destroyed or severely disabled and, in some areas, left a generation of children without education."
According to the WHO chief, in these countries, only one or two doctors are available for every 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas. What's worse, nearly 160 health care workers have been infected, and more than 80 have died. In addition, isolation wards and hospital capacity for infection control are "virtually nonexistent."