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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Ebola Response

The following opinion pieces discuss the response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Bloomberg Businessweek: The Ebola Outbreak Shows Why the Global Health System Is Broken
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…[T]he Ebola outbreak is a wake-up call to governments everywhere: The international health system is broken. Preventing a recurrence of this tragedy will require more money and attention on global progress against infectious disease and epidemics. … Why hasn’t Ebola been stamped out already? The problems start with national health systems. … Extremely poor countries with crumbling health systems simply don’t have the ability to monitor outbreaks and isolate and care for victims of an epidemic or to provide cheap and effective tools to protect people from major killers. That’s why greater international support is essential. … More broadly, diseases of the poor don’t get research attention from medical companies, because those organizations want to develop treatments for people who can pay a lot for them. … If we want to save lives abroad and protect ourselves from future threats posed by diseases that really could spread in the U.S., it’s time to replace periodic panicked calls for quarantine in response to a new outbreak with sustained support for global health systems” (8/11).

The Hill: The real Ebola dilemma
Heather M. Ross, nurse practitioner in cardiac electrophysiology at Arizona Arrhythmia Consultants and faculty member at Arizona State University

“President Obama’s Ebola ethics dilemma is merely a headline — a critical case that illustrates a much broader problem with medical research and particularly vaccine development in the United States and worldwide. … [W]hen we rely on a market-based system to drive medical research that may not be profitable in the short term or even medium term, that system is unlikely to respond to potential future threats — no matter how high the potential cost — if there is not a reasonable promise of economic return in the end. As many scholars have noted in the past, the system is designed to yield a flood of drugs to treat high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, but barely a trickle of vaccines for rare but deadly viruses. … I suggest that the real ethical dilemma here is not whether to fast-track approval and production of the Ebola treatment that has been used experimentally, but whether medical research should be funded by a predominantly market-driven system with the work of critical drug discovery left to the underfunded public sector…” (8/12).

The Seattle Times: Guest: Ebola needs a new model of drug development
Jennifer Dent, president of BIO Ventures for Global Health

“…Americans and other health care workers are among those infected with Ebola. But none of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies have invested in developing treatments for Ebola. A new drug-development paradigm is critical. The current, conventional drug-development approach does not work when it comes to creating treatments for rare and uncommon diseases like Ebola. … In order to effectively develop treatments for neglected infectious diseases, including ones recently identified in the United States such as West Nile virus and dengue fever, partnerships involving biopharmaceutical companies are absolutely critical. … Collaborations between researchers in Africa, academics around the world and the pharmaceutical industry not only advance the medical needs of developing nations but also establish multinational networks to address rapidly emerging diseases that may affect all of us” (8/11).

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