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DRC Ebola Outbreak Suggests Implementing Lessons Learned, Using Technology Critical To Containing Disease’s Spread

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Alexander Kumar, medical doctor at King’s College London

“…[I]t’s now been two weeks with no Ebola-positive patients in DRC. So what have we done right the second time around [since the West Africa epidemic], and how can the data gathered during these two outbreaks help us confront Ebola in the future? … When Ebola struck in West Africa in 2013 — for the first time in that region — it caught local and international medical communities off guard. Nobody knew what to do, which resulted in a tragic delay of months and thousands of deaths. The tide turned only once the international community agreed and implemented a new policy, giving intravenous fluids to patients. … The DRC’s previous experience with Ebola has also proved useful. The MSF rapidly employed 470 trained experts in the field, mainly locals — who all knew how to deal with an outbreak. … Crucially, in the DRC there has been no deadly delay in administering intravenous fluids. … Just as importantly, the medical teams had useful data from the 2013 epidemic. … This time around, … data collection combined with other data streams have helped implement rapidly a targeted vaccination campaign to control the outbreak…” (6/28).