This article in the New York Times dated March 22, 2015 provides a look back on the largest Ebola outbreak in history, with over 10,000 deaths.
According to the authors, “The virus escaped control as countries and global agencies failed to acknowledge and contend with the magnitude of its spread. Treatment centers were overwhelmed. Sick people died on city streets, and new cases multiplied inside health care facilities, killing a significant proportion of the already inadequate health work force of the three most affected countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.”
The authors believe, and I agree with them, that it was only after two American aid workers and a traveler to Nigeria that returned to the U.S., fell ill last summer that set off a world-wide panic with “a huge global initiative to combat Ebola.” “The effort has been messy, inefficient and expensive, often lagging the epidemic’s twists in tragic ways.”
“None of us have ever been involved in anything of this magnitude, complexity and potential severity before,” said Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations special envoy for Ebola. “There’s a huge process of analysis and lesson learning underway.”
Though there were some very positive reactions to the outbreak such as the African Union sending hundreds of health professionals to help contain the virus and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who worked closely with multinational teams led by the World Health Organization to go to more than a dozen unaffected African countries to help prevent the disease from spreading further. “It was part of the largest international deployment in the C.D.C.’s nearly 70-year history, supported by a congressional appropriation of more than $1 billion made available for the larger American response.”
But despite these efforts, “Ebola has laid bare the inadequacy of current global mechanisms for detecting outbreaks and quickly mobilizing a response.
“We need something more robust than an ad hoc system that we set up halfway through it,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, who leads Ebola response efforts for the W.H.O.
Now is the time to prepare and put in place plans for the next outbreak. There is no question another deadly epidemic is somewhere in the world … and it is not if one will happen but where and when. But, who will lead the effort? And, how will it be funded? That remains to be seen.
This particular event hit rather close to home for our family, as our son was on assignment by his employer to work in Equatorial Guinea for six months during the Ebola crisis as it was spreading through those African countries. His company, Schlumberger, an oil and gas exploration company, took good measures to help their workers in this area of Africa become aware of what was happening and took extra precautions to keep them safe and for that we were very grateful.
The complete article can be read at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/world/one-year-later-ebola-outbreak-offers-lessons-for-next-epidemic.html?ref=world