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News in the Humanosphere: Ebola Infections Slowing in Liberia

Varbah, a member of a Global Communities burial team, listens to the mother of Phelica Anthony, 6, explain the events leading up to her recent death.

The WHO confirmed what other organizations have been reporting: death rates and rates of new infections seem to be declining in Liberia, which is the country most affected by the outbreak. There does not seem to be a similar decline in Guinea or Sierra Leone. This counts as good news…for now. “‘It appears that the trend is real in Liberia and there may indeed be a slowing of the epidemic there,’ WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva. ‘There is increasing evidence that these countries can get on top of this,’ he said. Aylward added, though, that he was ‘terrified that the information will be misinterpreted and that people will begin to think Ebola is under control.’” (AFP

It’s getting easier to do business in sub-Saharan Africa…A new report from the World Bank. “Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency finds that local entrepreneurs in 123 economies saw improvements in their regulatory environment in the past year. From June 2013 to June 2014, the report, which covers 189 economies worldwide, documented 230 business reforms—with 145 aimed at reducing the complexity and cost of complying with business regulations, and 85 aimed at strengthening legal institutions. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for the largest number of reforms.”  (World Bank

A story to follow: Trouble is brewing in Mali. A French soldier was killed in particularly heavy fighting. (Reuters

The United States has signaled its discontent for Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore’s plan to amend the constitution to permit himself to run for office yet again.

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The first known victim of the current outbreak was 2-year-old Emile Ouamouno, who lived with his parents and three sisters, including 4-year-old Philomene. According to the World Health Organization, the boy fell sick last December with a mysterious illness that caused fever, black stools and vomiting. (AP

South African mining tycoon Patrice Motsepe has donated $1 million to the Ebola Fund to help fight the disease that has killed nearly 4,900 people, his firm said. (Yahoo!

China’s capital will suggest to people returning from regions affected by Ebola to quarantine themselves at home for 21 days, and to undergo twice daily temperature checks if they have had contact with patients, state media said on Wednesday. (VOA

The United States has sent a health official to a Cuban meeting on coordinating Latin America’s response to Ebola. The participation of the Centers for Disease Control’s Central America director is the most concrete sign to date of the two nations’ expressed desire to cooperate against the disease. (AP

Government agencies in Maine are in the process of filing a court order to require Kaci Hickox – a nurse now in the state after recently treating Ebola patients in West Africa – to be quarantined, (CNN

Food security and malnutrition rates across the Sahel are deteriorating, with nearly 25 million food insecure, due in large part to ongoing conflict and instability in the CAR, northern Mali, and northeast Nigeria, according to UNOCHA. (IRIN

Zambian Vice President Guy Scott was named acting leader Wednesday following the death of President Michael Sata. He’s the first White leader in Africa since FW DeKlerk. (AFP

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon warned Wednesday that Somalia risks returning to famine without urgent aid, as he visited the war-torn country three years since more than 250,000 people died of hunger. (AFP

About 100 female residents of Mukuru, an informal settlement in south-east Nairobi, traveled across town to wave signs and sing songs in a bid to grasp the attention of a government that has for decades failed to recognize their existence. (Guardian

West Africa missed out on significant health investment over the past decade or more because it had low rates of HIV, a detailed survey of the changing health of Africa and Asia reveals. (Guardian

One person was killed and eight others were wounded when machete-wielding youths clashed inside the United Nations camp in Malakal, where thousands of displaced South Sudanese have sought shelter, a U.N. official said. (VOA

By 2018, a large solar power plant in the Tunisian part of the Sahara desert may start sending power to energy-hungry Western Europe. (VOA

The U.N. warned Spain over plans to instantly deport migrants who clamber over the border fence into its north African territories, saying Madrid could end up breaking international law. (Yahoo!

There is no need to panic at the recent drop in oil prices, the secretary general of OPEC said on Wednesday, saying low prices would curb competing supplies and require the group to pump far more by the end of the decade. (Reuters


The leader of Hong Kong’s Liberal Party said he would resign on Wednesday, just hours after China’s top parliamentary advisory body expelled him for calling on the city’s embattled chief executive to step down. (Reuters

Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal sentenced the chief of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party to death on Wednesday for crimes against humanity, including genocide, torture and rape, during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. (Reuters

North Korea is showing signs of a willingness to discuss the human rights situation in the country, possibly as a result of pressure created by a U.N. inquiry that accused Pyongyang of crimes against humanity, a U.N. investigator said. (Reuters

China’s growth could decline to close to 7 percent next year but Beijing should focus on overhauling its economy instead of trying to stick to official growth targets, the World Bank said Wednesday. (AP

Small and well-run Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong are the world’s easiest places to run a business, while global giants China, Brazil and India remain far down the list, according the World Bank. (AFP

India’s top counter-terrorism agency has uncovered a suspected plot by a banned militant group to assassinate the prime minister of Bangladesh and carry out a coup. (Reuters

A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers’ houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (AP

As Australia moves on with a plan to resettle some 1,000 refugees in Cambodia, its legislature is also debating a bill that would eliminate most references to the 1951 Refugee Convention from domestic legislation – a move critics say could bolster the government’s asylum seeker deterrence efforts. (IRIN

The Americas
The U.N. General Assembly voted for the 23rd year in a row to condemn the U.S. commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba. (AP

Jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is refusing to appear in court in an attempt to pressure the government to respond to a United Nations request for his freedom. (AP

A city-run program in São Paulo, Brazil is the latest – and most holistic – intervention to try to curb the city’s large open-air drug market. Proponents say it could be a model for other cities in the region. Critics worry that it will delay addicts’ rehabilitation. (Guardian

Years of fewer births mean the number of working-age people in Cuba is expected to shrink starting next year, terrible news for an island attempting to jumpstart its stagnant centrally planned economy. The country’s governing Council of Ministers announced this week that it will soon unveil yet-unspecified financial incentives for couples considering starting families. (AP

Ebola and Quarantine (NEJM

The Inescapable Uncertainty of Popular Uprisings (Dart-Throwing Chimp

Is Refugee Rescue Attracting More? (DW

Keeping All Girls in School is One Way to Curb Child Marriage in Tanzania (IPS

Human Rights Watch gets the documentary treatment (A View From The Cave

Jessica Tuchman Mathews Steps Down from Carnegie. An Appreciation (UN Dispatch

What If We Publish Children’s Books African Kids Could Relate To? (Africa is a Country

West Africans are not powerless against Ebola…and neither are we (How Matters

“Wat bother U d most abt Ebola?” the design of U-report Liberia (Stories of UNICEF Innovation

Video of the Day: “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman”

Bringing sexy back to resilience and well-being of aid workers (WhyDev

Risk of acute malnutrition increasing among children in Somalia (Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit

About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]