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Marburg outbreak: launch of a flash funding appeal

Statement by Dr. Fatoumata Binta T. Diallo, Angola Representative of the World Health Organization

8 April 2005

We are here today, launching this appeal, because the Marburg outbreak has become a national crisis.

It is important that this is seen as a crisis not just by the ministry of health. We've passed that stage. We still don't have the total picture of the outbreak. The situation is still worrying. There is evidence that more provinces are involved. It certainly hasn't peaked yet.

Each ministry must understand that this is a national crisis and it needs their serious attention. This is not just a threat to human life but to economic life. Because this is a dangerous disease other countries are watching Angola closely. So it has the potential of travel and trade impacts.

Angola has an obligation not just to its people but to its neighbours and the global community.

WHO will concentrate its resources and expertise to assist Angola in controlling this outbreak. But the government needs to give it more serious attention than it has up to now. Those carrying the burden of control are outsiders, that is not enough.

But WHO and the government of Angola cannot do this alone. Most importantly, we need help from the people of Angola. We don't have treatments or vaccines for Marburg. So medicine won't solve this problem. We need to involve the people of Angola. They need to understand this disease.

Now, we understand there is a lot of fear of hospitals and health workers. That is understandable when they see so many health workers die in Uige. Still, it is vital that people with Marburg symptoms step forward and work with health workers.

This outbreak will be controlled. We don’t know when that will that will happen. But we must all work to ensure that not a single day is lost.

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For more information contact:

Melinda Henry
WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 2535
Fax: +41 22 791 4858
E-mail: henrym@who.int

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