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U.S., International Community Should Ramp Up Political Attention, Financial Commitments To End DRC Ebola Outbreak

JAMA: Ebola and War in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Avoiding Failure and Thinking Ahead
Lawrence O. Gostin and Matthew M. Kavanagh of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center, and Elizabeth Cameron of the Nuclear Threat Initiative

“…Uncontrolled Ebola outbreaks can expand quickly, as occurred in West Africa in 2014. Averting that outcome in the DRC requires rapid action including a strengthened public health response, security, and community outreach. If violence escalates, it could compromise a fragile response. Yet resources are insufficient. The United States and other countries are not permitting personnel deployment to the epicenter, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). … The United States and international community should launch high-level political mobilization, with diplomatic, human, and economic resources. It is critical to recognize that future health crises will occur in fragile, insecure settings. To prepare, the international community needs long-term planning and enhanced capacities to improve the safety and effectiveness of epidemic response operations…” (11/29).

New England Journal of Medicine: Ramping Up the Response to Ebola
Jennifer B. Nuzzo and Thomas V. Inglesby of the Center for Health Security and the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“…The WHO recently convened an emergency committee to determine whether the outbreak should be declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) — a designation applied to only four past outbreaks. The committee decided that the outbreak did not yet constitute a PHEIC but said that it ‘remains deeply concerned by the outbreak and emphasized that the response activities need to be intensified’ and that otherwise the situation is likely to ‘deteriorate significantly.’ Given the rapidly growing case numbers, limited ability in the field to conduct contact investigations, and high potential for cross-border spread, we believe that declaration of a PHEIC seems warranted now. It would increase both political attention and the financial resources flowing to the control effort. But leaders need not wait for such a declaration before they deepen their commitments: in recognizing the urgency of the concern expressed by the emergency committee, they can act now. … We … believe that the U.S. government should allow CDC staff to return to the field for as long as the WHO and others deem necessary. … If we do not act now, the outbreak may become far harder and more expensive to stop…” (11/28).

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