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On Ebola, MSF Opposes Quarantine, UN's WHO Says OK If Food & Water Given

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 2 -- At the UN's meeting on ebola on September 2, Joanne Liu of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that “coercive measures, such as laws criminalizing the failure to report suspected cases, and forced quarantines, are driving people underground. This is leading to the concealment of cases, and is pushing the sick away from health systems. These measures have only served to breed fear and unrest, rather than contain the virus.”

   Inner City Press asked the World Health Organization's Margaret Chan, as well as the UN's ebola coordinator David Nabarro, if they agree with this. Chan replied that while quarantine or isolation is the “gold standard” for public health, since ebola's incubation period is 21 days, material support should be provided.

  This implies that the UN system disagrees and is fine with quarantines, as long as food and water is provided. And what if, as in the West Point neighborhood of Monrovia, relatives of government officials are allowed to leave?

   What of the jouranlist in Senegal who'd been jailed for reporting -- too early, it turns out -- there was an ebola case in the country? Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it without any direct comment, a trend.

 Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund is working on the ebola crisis with the government of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, spokesperson Gerry Rice answered Inner City Press at the IMF's embargoed briefing on August 28.

  While most questions concerned IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde being under investigation -- she will brief the IMF Board “very soon,” Rice said, calling it “highly unlikely” it would be on August 29 along with the Board's meeting on Ukraine -- Inner City Press also asked about Yemen, Ghana, Pakistan -- and ebola, IMF transcript here:

Has the IMF produced any estimates of the impact of the ebola crisis? Any IMF responses to it?”

  Rice read out the question, then said that ebola's "acute impacts" are “macro-economic” and social, hitting three “already fragile” countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). He said "growth is likely to slow sharply in all three cases" and significant financial needs will rise: "increased poverty and food insecurity" and impacts on employment in the key agricultural sector.

  Rice concluded, "We are actively working with all three countries to prepare... additional financing that may be required."

  On Pakistan, Inner City Press has asked “former finance minister Hafiz Pasha has said, 'This is not the time for the IMF to push for an increase in power prices as people are talking about civil disobedience and agitating against the government on the streets.' What is the IMF's response?”

  Rice said that the fourth review of Pakistan continued, albeit in Dubai and now by video-conference from Washington.

  On Ghana, Inner City Press had asked “Convention People’s Party chair Samia Nkrumah has said, 'It will be erroneous to accept the fact that IMF conditionalities could not be rejected since in 1965, Ghana, under the First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, rejected the proposal of the IMF when they recommended the sale of national assets such as factories in exchange for a loan.' What is the IMF's response?”

  Rice said that the IMF team will be in Accra in September. On Yemen Inner City Press had asked, “it is reported that the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation estimates that cutting fuel subsidies could lead to an additional 500,000 Yemenis falling under the poverty line. What is the IMF's response to that, and to current protests of the cut in subsidies?” Rice described the request for a program.

On Lagarde, Rice said there will be a board briefing - Brazil's rep has called it a serious matter - but that he could predict nothing about what would happen. Nor about Ukraie, on which Inner City Press asked:

"On Ukraine, does the IMF agree with the view that 'as capital flight has accelerated, the country's official international reserves have been depleted and the Ukrainian currency now has depreciated by more than 30 percent since the start of the year. This has brought the currency to a level that the IMF itself considers to be dangerous for the solvency of the Ukrainian banking system” and that “it now appears that Ukraine's GDP will decline by more of the order of 10 percent in 2014 rather than by the 5 percent that initially had been assumed in the IMF program'?"

    Watch this site.


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