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Opinion Pieces Discuss Controlling Ebola Epidemic

The following opinion pieces discuss various aspects of controlling the Ebola epidemic.

Huffington Post: Why the World Must Act Now on Ebola
Michael Elliott, president and CEO of ONE

“…[W]hat has to be done if West Africa is not to slip back, if leaders like Koroma and Johnson Sirleaf — and countless of their citizens — are not to see all their hopes for a democratic transformation dashed? Two things. First, we need to ensure that the pathetic response of the international community to the outbreak this spring and summer … is never repeated. Even now, after weeks of pledges, there is still a need to ensure that supplies and skilled personnel reach the areas most affected with greater urgency. … Second — and this can’t be said too loud or too long — investment in public health is essential. Not just for the obvious reason — it saves lives — but because sound public health systems are a foundational good: they provide the essential undergirding for the prospect of a better future, for happy families, for economic growth…” (10/7).

The Lancet: Ebola: a crisis in global health leadership
Lawrence Gostin and Eric Friedman of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center

“…WHO, with its budget and capacity to respond diminished, has largely been sidelined in the response to Ebola. … The Ebola crisis should become a turning point for WHO reform, and for its member states being willing to fully resource it. No agency can exert leadership when it controls only a small portion of a depleted budget. The World Health Assembly should substantially increase members’ assessed contributions, create an emergency contingency fund, reform its regional organization, and engage non-state actors. … Failures in leadership have allowed a preventable disease to spin out of control, with vast harms to social order and human dignity. If the Ebola epidemic does not spur major reforms, it will undermine the credibility of WHO and the U.N., and enable the conditions for future crises to persist. Major failures in governance and leadership could be repaired if lessons are learned from Ebola…” (10/7).

New England Journal of Medicine: Ebola Vaccine — An Urgent International Priority
Vasee Moorthy and colleagues of the WHO, and Rupa Kanapathipillai, NEJM editorial fellow

“…Another WHO-arranged meeting [on Ebola vaccine candidate research] is planned for November to reevaluate the next necessary steps once preliminary results from the phase 1 trials are available. Even if adequate safety and immunogenicity are demonstrated in the phase 1 studies, vaccines will not be available in substantial quantity until the first quarter of 2015 at the earliest. For that to occur, funding must be secured for production. Even if an effective vaccine can be produced, it is not likely to be 100 percent effective, so to succeed in stemming the current outbreak, a coordinated effort to improve capacity and provide clinical care in affected countries needs to be scaled up urgently” (10/7).

The Lancet: Controlling Ebola: next steps
Jeffrey Sachs and Ranu Dhillon of Columbia University, and Devabhaktuni Srikrishna of Patient Knowhow

“The Ebola epidemic is paradoxical: it is out of control yet readily controllable. The key to epidemic control is rapid diagnosis, isolation, and treatment of infected individuals. This approach was used in past Ebola outbreaks through contact tracing, in which anyone exposed to a person with Ebola was monitored, tested if they developed symptoms, and, if positive, securely transported to a health facility for treatment. … We believe that with a dedicated effort that integrates early diagnosis, secure transport, and effective treatment, the Ebola epidemic could be contained within six months in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and in an even shorter time in Guinea. That is not the current trajectory but could become so if the affected governments and UNMEER quickly adopt a bottom-to-top, integrated, and scaled-up strategy to get ahead of the epidemic” (10/8).

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