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Opinions, Editorial Discuss Response To Ebola Outbreak

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

Washington Post: Can the World Health Organization lead? Do we want it to?
Jeremy Youde, associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth

“On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the current Ebola outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ Ebola is only the third disease to receive this designation, underscoring its importance. This declaration means that the world is facing a serious health emergency that requires a ‘coordinated international response’ that puts WHO front and center at facilitating the world’s response. This should be the time for WHO to shine. While it’s too early to know exactly what effect this designation will have, WHO’s track record on responding to Ebola doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. … We must remember, though, that many of WHO’s shortcomings in responding to this outbreak are the result of limitations placed on the organization. If we want a WHO that can respond more quickly and with more resources, the international community has to be willing to support such an organization” (8/8).

Financial Times: Cure a moral ailment that allows Ebola to fell the poor
Clive Cookson, science editor

“…The dearth of properly tested drugs or vaccines for the most lethal haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg disease is a sign of the low priority given until recently to the development of treatments for combating infection. The world is now waking up… The pharmaceutical industry, which has little market incentive to develop new antibiotics only to see them unused and held in reserve, has no more reason to work on cures for infections in the developing world. Fear of bioterrorism has provided some US government funding for research. But a more robust mechanism is needed to develop treatments for these lethal germs, put them through clinical trials and build up supplies for use in an emergency. Even if the science is conquered, a moral and political challenge will remain” (8/8).

The Lancet: Ebola: protection of health workers on the front line

“…Health workers on the front line are at increased risk of contracting Ebola by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. Use of adequate personal protective clothing and equipment when caring for patients or the deceased, thorough cleaning, and effective waste disposal, can substantially reduce the risk of infection. Worryingly, last week the World Medical Association reported that many of its junior doctor members dealing with the outbreak had not been provided with essential protective equipment. The situation is disturbing and unacceptable. Governments, WHO, and the international community have a collective responsibility not only to fully staff the effort to bring Ebola under control, but also to provide adequate protective clothing, training, and support for anyone coming into contact with patients” (8/9).

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