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AU to engage private sector in fighting Ebola

The AU will meet with African businesses to discuss ways to raise money to help fight Ebola.

An Ebola sign placed in front of a home in the West Point slum area of Monrovia, Liberia. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - The African Union is expected to meet with representatives in the private sector for the first time this week as efforts continue to find ways to fight Ebola and improve general health conditions.

The most deadly outbreak of Ebola on record has killed nearly 5,000 people, all but a handful of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The AU will meet with African businesses to discuss ways to raise millions of dollars to help deploy medical workers to the region.

The AU's Jacob Enoh-Eben says although the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of new infections is decreasing the fight is far from over.

"We will be looking for to how we can lure businesses as a lot of focus has been on Ebola virus but this has ignored other diseases malaria sand all other types of diseases that we were dealing with before."

Meanwhile, a US nurse who challenged quarantines of health care workers returning from treating West African Ebola patients said on Sunday she thought "an abundance of politics" lurked behind them.

Kaci Hickox has fought a heated public battle over what she considers draconian measures to isolate her for 21 days after her return from Sierra Leone, in a case that highlights the dilemma over how to balance public health needs and personal liberty.

In some US states officials such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have imposed strict quarantines on health workers returning from three Ebola-ravaged West African countries, but the US federal government opposes such measures.

"When Governor Christie stated that it was an abundance of caution, which is his reasoning for putting health care workers in a sort of quarantine for three weeks, it was really an abundance of politics," Hickox said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press".

"And I think all of the scientific and medical and public health community agrees with me on that statement," she said.

Christie has defended his decision to impose a mandatory three-week quarantine, saying that counting on a voluntary system may or may not work and that protecting health and safety is the government's job.

(Edited Leeto M Khoza)