Geldof: Intervene immediately on Ebola before it spirals out of control

Bob Geldof speaks out on Ebola
Bob Geldof speaks out on Ebola

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Bob Geldof speaks out on Ebola 03:56

Story highlights

  • An outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more than 4,400 people since March
  • Campaigner and musician Bob Geldof says immediate action is needed to stop the crisis
  • Geldof says Ebola's spread is linked to poverty in the worst affected countries
  • He warns affected states could collapse, allowing Ebola and "human evils" to take hold
Containing the Ebola outbreak sweeping West Africa is plausible -- but action needs to be taken immediately, before affected states potentially collapse and the virus spirals out of control, campaigner Bob Geldof says.
"Even out of self-interest you have to act in these instances," Geldof told CNN's Max Foster.
"There is no time-lag between what happens in the poor parts of the world and it affecting us, which is why we have to ... intervene quite radically and effectively and immediately."
Since the outbreak started in March, about 9,000 Ebola cases and 4,493 deaths have been reported, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO has warned there could be up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week across the three hardest-hit nations by the end of the year.
Geldof, the musician responsible for coordinating Live Aid concerts to draw attention to famine in Africa in the 1980s, said people starved then because they couldn't grow food and they and their governments had no money to buy any.
"In effect they died of poverty. "The same is happening now in West Africa. They don't have the doctors, nurses, hospitals, state systems that they have in Texas or Madrid and so once again, through no fault of their own, this virus is out of control in states where there are no systems -- because there is no money," he said.
In Sierra Leone, one of the nations worst-hit by Ebola, the situation was "particularly tragic," he said.
"Sierra Leone was just getting off its knees, beginning to breathe, the economy was beginning to have traction and people were beginning to get well educated, hospitals were being built," Geldof said. "You could be looking at -- some people think -- some sort of state collapse, which would be utterly unthinkable because the disease itself, should that happen, would then spiral away by itself."
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But Geldof was hopeful the spread of the virus could be halted.
"With the right will, the right level of commitment, this can be contained. The issue is, will it be contained in time to stop these states collapsing and then other evils -- human evils -- emanating from that," he said.
"I've been briefed on what the response is and should all of it happen then I think it's plausible. But it has to happen immediately, it has to happen now. It's now beyond getting together and having a summit. It's now calling up the various leaders and saying 'now, do it now, mobilize this thing instantly and proactively."
The medical organization Medicines San Frontieres -- or Doctors Without Borders -- had warned six months ago of the Ebola threat to the world and "we should have put a stop to it then," he said.
An effective response, however, depended on more than "just the usual suspects" of Western Europe and the United States getting involved, said Geldof.
"It should be in the interest to the Chinese and the Japanese and the Russians to contribute to this and we hear very little from them and we should hear more."