Sierra Leone is hoping to to evacuate a doctor who has contracted the deadly Ebola virus for treatment abroad.
Dr. Olivet Buck is the fourth Sierra Leonean doctor to contract the disease. The other three have died. The government requested funds from the World Health Organization to evacuate Dr. Buck to Germany for treatment that could save her life.
She would be the first doctor from West Africa to receive treatment for Ebola abroad. So far, only foreign health workers have been evacuated for treatment.
But the Associated Press is reporting that WHO has turned down the request. In a letter seen by one of the news agency’s reporters, WHO officials said they could not organize the evacuation to Germany. Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the organization will explore other options to ensure the best care for Dr. Buck.
Sierra Leone is one of the West African countries hardest hit by the virus that has claimed more than 2,400 lives so far and is expected to continue on its deadly path for months. People who care for Ebola victims are at high risk of getting infected.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has called the situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea catastrophic because the countries’ health systems cannot deal with the number of patients infected with Ebola. The virus also has killed many qualified medical workers, causing a shortage in the most affected countries.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to travel to the Center for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta on Tuesday to be briefed about the Ebola outbreak and to discuss the U.S. response to the epidemic.
U.S. government contributions toward fighting the outbreak have topped $100 million. The privately held Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week pledged $50 million to purchase supplies and speed up development of potential therapies.
Liberia has become the epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for about half of all cases and deaths. The WHO said this week that “intense transmission” also continues in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.