Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Ebola Epidemic

The following editorial and opinion pieces examine the Ebola epidemic and issues surrounding the international response.

Wall Street Journal: The Ebola Twilight of Public Institutions
Editorial Board

“…[The Ebola epidemic is] ruthlessly exposing the decay of the once-eminent public institutions that were established to contain such transnational contagions — organizations both international and domestic. … The United Nations-run WHO has long been a growing irrelevance, as Director-General Margaret Chan spent the week not in Monrovia but Moscow, pontificating at a WHO conference aimed at raising global tobacco taxes. More disquieting are the failures of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the rest of the American public health establishment, which is supposed to be run by the government’s finest. … The World Health Organization ought to be defunded to discipline its ineptitude and frivolity … [H]and the money to a more serious and capable institution. The problem these days is identifying which that might be” (10/15).

Huffington Post: AIDS to Ebola: Moving From Peril to Progress
Susan Blumenthal, public health editor at the Huffington Post and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Terrol Graham, Allan Rosenfield public policy fellow with amfAR

“…Tragically, despite extensive emergency preparedness planning and reports issued in the aftermath of 9/11, the anthrax attacks, SARS, and H1N1 flu, the world is still unprepared to fight Ebola. It now appears that these reports never translated into the global actions needed for a surge response anywhere in the world when a new infectious disease killer emerges. … Sadly, we must learn once again from this current public health emergency that plans cannot just be developed and put on a shelf. They must be designed for immediate implementation with a global command structure and ready reserve of personnel and resources for rapid deployment to anywhere in the world to control disease spread…” (10/15).

Huffington Post: Stopping Ebola With Public Health Expertise, Not Casual Advice
Linda Fried, dean and DeLamar professor of public health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

“As the Ebola crisis continues to grow, America is facing the proliferating challenges of how best to help in West Africa, how to prevent the spread of the disease in the United States, and how to assert incontrovertibly that public health scientists understand how to prevent and control outbreaks like this. Our nation is fortunate to have at the forefront of that effort the most capable public health organization in the world, and as these challenges multiply, it is imperative that we allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the larger public health community, to act on the best science available without becoming distracted and immobilized by media and partisan second-guessing. Too often, they cloud our vision and thwart an effective response. … [Federal and state public health agencies] are by far our best hope of defeating this terrible disease and can do so with our full non-politicized support” (10/15).

TIME: How Lessons From the AIDS Crisis Can Help Us Beat Ebola
Ruth Katz, director of the health, medicine and society program at the Aspen Institute

“…To get ahead of the curve, we need a renewed commitment to research and action, and enough resources to put more public health boots on the ground, both at home and abroad. Greater support for the Global Health Security Agenda, designed to close gaps in the world’s ability to quell infectious disease, should be a priority. The agenda, launched earlier this year, is a partnership involving the U.S. government, WHO, other international agencies, and some 30 partner countries. For too long, the history of infectious diseases has been that of ignoring a threat until it nears disaster, and then stepping in to prevent it from getting even worse. We can’t afford to keep repeating that pattern, and squandering blood and treasure in the process…” (10/15).

Washington Post: In Ebola fear, a familiar whiff of paranoia
Steven Petrow, journalist and syndicated columnist

“There have been only three confirmed cases (and one death) of Ebola in the United States, but a related condition is spreading faster than a California wildfire. Americans nationwide are showing signs of an epidemic of fear, all too reminiscent of the stigmatization, dread of contagion, and moral panic of the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. … Still, the legacy of [the HIV] epidemic is clear: Without strong political leadership, science-based policies, and a responsible media, we are headed down a frighteningly familiar road. There is one link between these two health scares that gives me hope, and that’s the heroism and selflessness displayed by frontline health care providers tending to patients in West Africa and now in the United States. … Indeed, the current Ebola outbreak provides lessons to be avoided — and lessons to be repeated” (10/15).

Dallas Morning News: Ebola didn’t have to kill Thomas Eric Duncan, nephew says
Josephus Weeks, U.S. Army and Iraq war veteran

“On Friday, Sept. 25, 2014, my uncle Thomas Eric Duncan went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. He had a high fever and stomach pains. He told the nurse he had recently been in Liberia. But he was a man of color with no health insurance and no means to pay for treatment, so within hours he was released with some antibiotics and Tylenol. … Eight days later, he died alone in a hospital room. … I write this on behalf of my family because we want to set the record straight about what happened and ensure that Thomas Eric did not die in vain. So, here’s the truth about my uncle and his battle with Ebola. Thomas Eric Duncan was cautious. … Thomas Eric Duncan was a victim of a broken system. … Thomas Eric Duncan could have been saved. … In time, we may learn why my uncle’s initial visit to the hospital was met with such incompetence and insensitivity. Until that day comes, our family will fight for transparency, accountability, and answers, for my uncle and for the safety of the country we love” (10/14).