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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Ebola Epidemic, Response

New York Times: Fighting an Epidemic With Hands Tied
Lawrence Altman, physician and former New York Times senior medical correspondent

“…Beyond the obvious dangers to health care workers — more than 270, mostly African, have died so far this year — a host of obstacles stand in the way of anyone who may want to help stem a catastrophe. Foremost among them, perhaps, is that with no central agency in charge, volunteers often cannot be placed when and where they are most needed. … Many people ask why foreigners should respond to an epidemic far from home, even if imported cases may significantly threaten people in their own country. The tradition of doctors’ and nurses’ accepting personal risks in caring for patients seems to be a casualty in the growing commercialism of medicine and academia…” (11/3).

Foreign Policy: Journey to the Center of an Epidemic
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…During my first morning on the ground I was met with the African smells and sights I have known so well during my three decades of travel on this continent, but with one crucial difference — no hugging, wild gesticulations, comradely macho handshakes, or girlish kiss-kiss greetings. … Whether or not Liberia now has Ebola on the run will not be certain for several days, as teams of U.S. CDC epidemiologists and their Liberian counterparts scour remote communities all over this country in search of hidden disease victims, embers for fresh outbreaks. But one thing is clear: Life goes on in impoverished Liberia in the face of this calamitous epidemic” (11/3).

New York Times: The Capacity to Treat, and to Spread
Abigail Zuger, physician and New York Times columnist

“…[Ebola] appears minimally transmissible among humans save in settings when friends, relatives, or licensed professionals care for the ill. This pattern forces a completely new examination of health care workers’ rights and responsibilities to infected patients and to the community at large. … [I]t seems to me that health care workers will do themselves a big favor by taking ownership of the situation and acknowledging that choosing to be part of the solution to this infection, sadly, turns us into part of the problem. Wouldn’t it be sensible and politic for us all gracefully to accept the fact that a terminal three weeks of limited liberty is necessarily a part of this particular job?” (11/3).

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