September 25, 2014

Liberia Struggles in Fight Against Ebola

Liberian Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah didn’t need to hear the latest predictions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to know that the Ebola crisis was out of hand. He saw it coming back in March, when Liberia reported its first case of the virus. He clamored for international attention, in vain.

Now the capital, Monrovia, is at the center of an outbreak that threatens to sicken as many as 1.4 million people in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone by January, according to the CDC. And if Liberia’s government wasn’t able to tackle the crisis on Day One, it’s even less prepared to do so now, says Nyenswah.

Ebola, transmitted through contact with contaminated bodily fluids like blood, kills more than half its victims. A hotline established to ensure safe transfer of patients to treatment centers is now fielding up to 3,000 requests a day. Not every case is Ebola, of course, but with no quick way of testing for a disease whose early symptoms can look like those of malaria or tuberculosis, every illness must be treated as if it is.

The government has just six ambulances to answer those calls, and there are only 380 beds in Monrovia’s Ebola treatment units–fewer than the suspected cases the country sees in a week. It’s not unusual to wait five days for a pickup. And if the patient dies, it can take longer for one of the 10 disposal teams to pick up the body, which stays contagious for days after death.

Help is on its way, in the form of 3,000 U.S. troops sent by President Barack Obama. But while the support is welcome–“Their presence gives us hope,” Nyenswah tells TIME–it’s not clear to most Liberians how it will help, especially after Obama pledged that no troops would come into contact with Ebola patients. They will assist with training health care workers and setting up more treatment centers, but even the proposed number of American-built beds–1,700–is likely to be overwhelmed by the snowballing number of cases.

“Better late than never,” says Nyenswah. But if the troops can’t help where it matters most, it may just turn out to be too little too late.

U.N.

‘Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation.’

EMMA WATSON, Harry Potter star and goodwill ambassador for U.N. Women, urging men around the world to join a new campaign for gender equality called HeForShe, during a speech at the U.N. in New York City on Sept. 20. “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating,” she said, adding, “This has to stop.”

DATA

INTERNET SPEEDS

The technology firm Ookla measured Internet download speeds in over 150 countries. Here’s a sampling of its findings, in megabits per second:

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

78.2

Singapore

53.7

South Korea

29.9

U.S.

5.7

India

1.9

Venezuela

Seeking Refuge

TURKEY Kurdish children carry their belongings as they cross the border from Syria into southeastern Turkey on Sept. 23. With terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria escalating their attacks on villages in the largely Kurdish border region in northern Syria, the U.N. estimated that more than 130,000 refugees fled to Turkey from Sept. 19 to Sept. 23.

THREE ESSENTIAL FACTS ABOUT

The U.N. Climate Summit

As the 2014 session of the U.N. General Assembly began in New York City, the international body put aside Sept. 23 to tackle global warming. There’s a lot to do–this summer was the hottest on record, and global greenhouse-gas emissions rose 2.3% in 2013. Here’s what came out of the meeting:

STAR PRESENCE

President Obama was one of many world leaders who addressed the summit, promising that the U.S. would be “stepping up to the plate” on climate action. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was on hand too. But Chinese President Xi Jinping–whose country is the world’s top emitter–was conspicuously absent.

MAJOR PROMISES

A range of governments, investors and financial institutions mobilized pledges of more than $200 billion to finance clean energy and support climate resilience among vulnerable developing nations. The U.N.’s ultimate goal: to attract $100 billion a year to fight climate change by 2020.

UNFINISHED WORK

The prospects for a truly global treaty to reduce carbon emissions–encompassing developed and developing nations–are still uncertain. Diplomats have set the end of 2015 as a deadline for a deal, but any agreement still has to overcome major international divisions.

WORLD

10.9 BILLION

The world’s expected population in 2100–up from the current 7.2 billion–according to a study published in the journal Science

Trending In

POWER

Afghan President-elect Ashraf Ghani will be sworn in on Sept. 29, after striking a deal with rival Abdullah Abdullah over a disputed election

SPACE

The NASA Mars explorer Maven entered the planet’s orbit and will now test its systems before launching a study of Mars’ atmosphere

DIPLOMACY

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi–who was barred from the U.S. in 2005–meets with President Obama at the White House on Sept. 29

GOLD

A mall in China laid $33 million worth of gold bricks under a glass walkway to mark the Golden Week national holiday, which starts on Oct. 1

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the October 06, 2014 issue of TIME.

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