Ebola in Guinea: Alpha Conde Coerces Doctors w/o Borders Staff to Downplay Seriousness of Epidemic
Rony Brauman, former president of Doctors without Borders
In an article (in French), the former president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors without Borders (DWB), Rony Brauman, comments on progress in eradicating Ebola in the primary affected countries –Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Guinea, Mr. Brauman stated concern about Alpha Conde’s interference in the work of Doctors without Borders staff during May and June this year. Conde accused the health professionals of “. . . trying to do too much, spreading panic about increased number of cases and promoting their organization.” It appears that Conde was trying to muzzle DWB in order to prevent investors from finding out that Guinea was part of a full-blown epidemic.
During July through September, it was difficult to find updated Ebola statistics for Guinea; in fact, it appeared cases were leveling out. It is difficult to know whether Conde’s interference caused DWB to be less public with information during that time. On October 9, Doctors without Borders issued a press release about a spike in Ebola cases in Guinea. Not only was DWB concerned about increase in cases, but were short of beds as well. Will Conde attempt to hush up DWB again? He certainly has the leverage to do so; his best friend is former French foreign minister and co-founder of DWB, Bernard Kouchner. They met as school boys in France and have been friends for 60 years.
In a related article, “Why is Guinea’s Ebola Outbreak so Unusual?,” dated April 1, 2014, National Public Radio Radio interviewed Esther Sterk, a tropical medicine adviser to DWB, who shared concerns about the unusual spread of the virus in Guinea:
Doctors Without Borders has called the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea “unprecedented” — not because of the number of victims (so far at least 78 have died) but because the disease has traveled to various parts of the country. The widespread infection (which includes the capital city of Conakry) is at least unusual, the World Health Organization agrees, and presents more challenges than usual to the medical team seeking to contain the virus.
Sterk goes on to say that she “thinks” the virus has spread so widely because its “easy for people to travel from place to place in Guinea.” Perhaps there are other factors as well.
Finally, please see information from the CDC as of 10/25/14 showing a case count table and a map showing outbreak distribution for all three countries. Note that the Guinea part of this updated map, while not consisting of a large amount of cases, does show that the cases are distributed more broadly throughout the country than maps from a month or two ago.
STAY TUNED . . .