Curbing The Ebola Outbreak: Are We on the Right Track?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared a public health emergency due to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has accounted for over 13,000 reported cases and 4,800 deaths. Some imported and locally acquired cases in health care workers have also been reported in the United States. As a result, concerns about the further escalation of this epidemic and how to best prepare for and contain this deadly disease exist in both the U.S. and abroad.

What is the current state of the Ebola epidemic? What are some best practices in countries that have successfully contained the epidemic? How could these lessons be replicated and applied elsewhere? Would we be prepared to rapidly detect and contain the disease if it developed into a large outbreak in the U.S.? Do local hospitals have the capacity and resources necessary if the virus spreads domestically? What is the status of Ebola vaccine development and distribution? What are barriers to containment? Could travel restrictions be useful in curbing the spread of the disease? What are the legal issues surrounding quarantine and other such laws? What other challenges do policymakers face?

A panel of experts addressed these and related questions at a November 18, 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation and the Alliance for Health Reform briefing.

The panel was co-moderated by Jen Kates of the Kaiser Family Foundation and Ed Howard of the Alliance for Health Reform.

Josh Michaud, associate director, Global Health Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation, described the global response, including containment strategy, proper surveillance, and best practices.

Peter Hotez, founding dean and professor, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and president and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, spoke about the effort to develop clinical countermeasures.

Jeffrey Gold, chancellor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, assessed domestic health system preparedness.

For the full materials associated with the briefing, please visit the Alliance for Health Reform website.

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