Harvard Experts Discuss Importance Of Health Systems, Community Trust, Strong Governance In Preventing Epidemics, DRC’s Ebola Outbreak

Health Affairs: Ebola In The DRC Is More About The DRC Than It Is About Ebola
Abraar Karan, physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Ingrid T. Katz, associate faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Ashish K. Jha, K.T. Li professor of global health at Harvard University, dean for global strategy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, discuss the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) “persistent struggles” with Ebola and the ongoing obstacles to an effective response. The authors note, “Ultimately, we are shown time and time again that epidemics are best managed when three pillars are in place: a strong primary care system, in which people trust the doctors and nurses who care for them; strong governance, in which political leaders and the government can respond effectively and engender trust; and strong communities, in which civil society organizations, religious entities, and others can mobilize people to change behavior and engage with the health system. … The current outbreak is about much more than Ebola: It is about what Ebola is showing us happens when we lack robust political and effective health systems” (11/16).