Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Guinea imam's trip to Mali exposes gaps in Ebola response

20 November 2014, 21:43

Dakar - When a sick Muslim imam from Guinea entered Mali at the border town of Kouremale last month, he did not use the main tarmac road with its Ebola checkpoint but took a nearby dirt track.

When his green Mercedes was halted at a second checkpoint and he was asked to return to Kouremale for health checks, Oussa Koita, 70, managed to avoid them thanks to the intervention of a village chief, according to border officer Mamadou Diawara.

Koita is later believed to have died of Ebola - he was never tested - but not before he had visited Mali's capital Bamako. His journey highlights the porousness of national borders in a region struggling to stem the worst known outbreak of a disease which has now killed at least 5,420 people in eight countries.

Also read: WHO: Ebola transmission 'intense' in Sierra Leone

Authorities in Guinea and Mali are now scrambling to trace around 300 people on each side of the border who had contact with Koita, whose funeral in Kouremale drew thousands.

Health workers in Mali fear more Ebola cases will spill over the border from the Siguiri area of Guinea, where aid workers say resources to fight the disease are still meagre.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are five probable cases of Ebola in Siguiri as the contagion creeps northwards from its original forest epicentre of Gueckedou, deep in the south of Guinea.

Six people in Mali have died so far from Ebola. The WHO said in a report on Thursday that Mali would "remain at risk of further imported cases as long as transmission across the border is ongoing".

Since the Koita incident, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has stepped up border controls and this week he visited Kouremale to oversee their implementation. Medical charity MSF is also expanding its Mali team to help with the response.

But keeping cases out will not depend entirely on Mali.

"There is a problem with the Guinean response and if these people fall ill, the likelihood is that they come into Mali for treatment," said a senior source in Mali's Ebola response team.

Massama Keita, head of a local crisis committee fighting Ebola, said halting the disease at the border was impossible.

"Between Mali (and Guinea) it's not really a border. So many people reside together that you cannot control it," he said. (Additional reporting by Colin Baker in Bamako and Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Gareth Jones)

- Reuters

Tags who dakar ebola

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...