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U.N. blames rich nations for Ebola outbreak

WHO Director General Margaret Chan and Assistant Director General for Health Security Keiji Fukuda.

NEW YORK – The United Nations World Health Organization appears to be developing a narrative that the severity of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the fault of developed nations that are motivated only by profit, including the United States.

“Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?” Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, asked in a speech Monday to the Regional Committee for Africa’s meeting in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

Answering her question, she said: “Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations.”

Chan said “the R&D incentive is virtually non-existent.”

“A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay,” the WHO chief said.

Chan continued her argument linking the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to money by railing against developed nations for ignoring WHO appeals to make investments in the region’s underdeveloped heath-care system.

“When heads of state in non-affected countries talk about Ebola, they rightly attribute the outbreak’s unprecedented severity to the failure to put basic public health infrastructures in place,” she said.

“Without fundamental public health infrastructures in place, no country is stable. No society is secure. No resilience exists to withstand the shocks that our 21st century societies are delivering with ever-greater frequency and force, whether from a changing climate or a runaway killer virus.”

She expressed frustration that developed nations, including the United States, have failed to meet current funding requirements the WHO believes is necessary to combat successfully the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages,” she said. “Now people can see everyday [the human cost] on prime time news.”

Chan spoke directly to the people of West Africa who have seen so many of their countrymen fall ill and die of the disease.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to the families, the loved ones, the neighbors and entire villages and communities,” she said. “I can tell you one thing: Every one of these West Africans who died from Ebola was beloved.”

The WHO in its most recently released Ebola Situation Report, dated Nov. 5, documented the agency has received only 49 percent of its target of $260 million to contain the outbreak in West Africa.

Noting that an additional 15 percent of the funds required have been pledged, the WHO said a gap of 36 percent remains.

“WHO continues to appeal to Member States to provide funding and other resources to assist in containing the Ebola outbreak,” the report stressed.

On Sept. 3, WND reported Chan, in a U.N. Foundation teleconference on Ebola, said Ebola should not be characterized as an “African disease.”

Chan explained the current outbreak, which she characterized as “the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of Ebola we have seen since the first outbreak of the disease 14 years ago,” represented a threat to the developed world if it is not contained in West Africa.