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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Ongoing Ebola Outbreak

An editorial and several opinion pieces address the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The Lancet: Ebola: a failure of international collective action
Editorial Board

“…Although WHO is now leading the international response to the crisis, it was initially slow to act at the high level that was needed. … The crisis shows the importance of sufficient levels of multilateral funding for WHO — the only international agency capable of coordinating the response to a health crisis with global dimensions. There are other lessons from this outbreak, including the need for increased investment in health system strengthening. … The international community must show the collective responsibility and global solidarity absent at the start of this outbreak to bring it to an end. Its failure to do so is allowing a disaster of unprecedented proportions to unfold in West Africa” (8/21).

Huffington Post: Ebola Isn’t Unique: Women Are Significantly More Likely to Die in Disasters
Soraya Chemaly, feminist, writer, and satirist

“…The truth is that while epidemics affect genders differently, what is happening right now gender-wise in countries affected by Ebola is the norm in disasters across the globe. … Gender matters. In the case of Ebola, deeply understanding the role that its construction plays in transmission and mortality could have immediate effects. … Persistently, paternalistically, believing that men alone will find solutions to problems largely defined by their own experiences, and that everyone will benefit by benevolent extensio, is the meta-disaster that unites these events…” (8/21).

TIME: 1,400 Are Dead From Ebola and We Need Help, Says Doctors Without Borders President
Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

“The epidemic won’t be contained without more treatment centers, coordinated action, logistical assets, and health workers. … Slowing and then halting this outbreak requires much more than money and statements. The only way to contain the epidemic is to increase the response capacity in affected areas … Meaningful and coordinated action is needed on the ground today if we don’t want to be reduced to counting the dead for many weeks to come, whether from Ebola or other far less sinister diseases” (8/21).

The Guardian: Ebola has caused Liberia’s cauldron of dissatisfaction to boil over
Robtel Neajai Pailey, Liberian writer and researcher at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies

“…The lack of quality health care in Liberia is not from lack of financing, as most people have argued. It is from the mismanagement of funds. Contrary to what has been reported, Liberia is not poor; it is poorly managed. … Just as armed conflicts ended in Liberia, Ebola too will be overcome. But when the war on Ebola ends, Liberia and its people, domestically and transnationally, must begin an earnest conversation about how to solve the crisis of citizenship” (8/22).

The Lancet: Ethical considerations of experimental interventions in the Ebola outbreak
Annette Rid, of King’s College London, and Ezekiel Emanuel, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

“…The global response to the current Ebola outbreak has initially been slow and inadequate. Now that the response is picking up, the international community needs more focus on strengthening of health systems and infrastructure and less on experimental treatments. Adoption of containment measures with a view to strengthen health systems and infrastructure is the most effective way to curb this epidemic and prevent future ones; it has positive externalities for health promotion and offers fair benefits to communities who engage in research in this outbreak. Experimental Ebola treatments or vaccines should only be deployed in clinical trials…” (8/22).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Global health beyond Ebola
Jeffrey Koplan, vice president of global health at Emory University, and Carlos del Rio, chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health

“…With Ebola virus at the forefront of media coverage and general discussion, it is important to note that community knowledge is a powerful deterrent to fear. Education can help dispel myths and support practical prevention tools for this and other serious communicable diseases. … Global health affects us all. Rather than reacting through panic and fear to just one current disease threat of the moment, the best approach to preventing and limiting the spread of communicable and non-communicable diseases is preparedness, research, training, and partnership…” (8/21).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Prescribe caution with unproven drugs
Philip Rosoff, professor of pediatrics and medicine at Duke University Medical Center

“…It may seem reasonable to bypass normal regulatory pathways to demonstrate both safety and efficacy for [Zmapp, the experimental Ebola drug], and take the chance it might work. But despite these desperate circumstances, caution should be paramount when approving the use of an unproven drug. … No matter how this is decided, insufficient time and thought have been devoted to creating a fair and equitable system to distribute the (potential and questionable) benefits of this experimental therapy…” (8/21).

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