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Editorial, Opinions Discuss Issues Surrounding U.S., Global Response To Ebola

An editorial piece and several opinion pieces discuss issues surrounding the U.S. and global response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

USA TODAY: Ebola speeds up, world stands still: Our view
Editorial Board

“As the Ebola outbreak has picked up speed — sickening nearly 4,800 people and killing half — the world has talked a good game about how deeply it cares. On the ground in West Africa, however, the disease races on, largely unimpeded. … President Obama calls it a ‘national security priority,’ and he’s expected to ramp up the U.S. response today. It will include a massive military-led logistical effort, 17 100-bed treatment centers, hundreds of thousands of home-treatment kits, and training of 500 medical workers a week. Ideally, this will not only staunch the epidemic but also serve as a model for a permanent system capable of responding swiftly to new viruses that could prove even more infectious than Ebola…” (9/16).

New York Times: Goodbye, Organization Man
David Brooks, New York Times columnist

“…Now nobody wants to be an Organization Man. We like start-ups, disrupters, and rebels. Creativity is honored more than the administrative execution. Post-Internet, many people assume that big problems can be solved by swarms of small, loosely networked nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. Big hierarchical organizations are dinosaurs. The Ebola crisis is another example that shows that this is misguided. The big, stolid agencies — the health ministries, the infrastructure builders, the procurement agencies — are the bulwarks of the civil and global order. Public and nonprofit management, the stuff that gets derided as ‘overhead,’ really matters. It’s as important to attract talent to health ministries as it is to spend money on specific medicines. … When the boring tasks of governance are not performed, infrastructures don’t get built. Then, when epidemics strike, people die” (9/15).

Foreign Affairs: Obama’s Ebola Failure
Kim Yi Dionne, assistant professor of government at Smith College

“…Much of the American response — both in the media and by the U.S. government — has been about protecting Americans, signaling something about the way the United States values lives. Obama has called the response to Ebola a ‘national security priority,’ raising the alarm that if the United States doesn’t respond now in West Africa, the Ebola virus could mutate and become ‘a serious danger to the United States.’ But the disease is already a serious danger to the many West Africans who are exposed to it” (9/15).

Washington Post: Leading from behind the curve on Ebola
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

“…Whatever the intentions of the president’s plan, its success will be measured by a few things. Speed is essential — even days of delay would have large consequences given the upward curve of cases. Coordination is key — other governments, international institutions, and nongovernmental organizations need someone to be unequivocally in charge on the ground. And a massive education effort will be essential — the next stage of preventing transmission may require people who fear they are infected to stay in place, wait to see if they get sick and then be nursed by relatives with home-care kits (if an Ebola treatment facility is not readily available)…” (9/15).

The Guardian: Why are Western health workers with Ebola flown out, but locals left to die?
Joseph Harker, assistant comment editor at The Guardian

“…The WHO decision [to provide Ebola treatment for a local doctor in Sierra Leone rather than abroad] seems to be making a distinction between Western health workers in the region who are, rightly, given live-saving treatment — and those from the countries concerned who are taking equal risks, are equally courageous, and are equally important in the struggle, but condemned to take their chances in a poorly funded health care system that can barely cope. And the decision was hugely counterproductive too, because if Ebola is to be tackled, everything must be done to encourage those in the frontline to continue their work despite the huge risks they face…” (9/15).

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