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World Needs Effective Model For Responding To Outbreaks In Unstable Regions

The Telegraph: Attacks on health workers risk Ebola spiraling out of control
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust

“Health care workers know that responding to Ebola puts them at risk. The virus is highly infectious and often fatal. … But premeditated attacks on the people and facilities providing care for Ebola patients were not thought to be part of the deal. They are now. … Public health measures won’t work [in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] without significant logistical and security expertise, as well as negotiators skilled in conflict resolution. In this situation, all the responders need the full, coordinated backing of other U.N. agencies and global communities to end the outbreak. … [W]e do not have an effective model for dealing with outbreaks in unstable regions. Yet conflict is a major risk factor for infectious disease, while violence and displacement only heighten the need to earn people’s trust in order for any epidemic response to succeed. This, then, is our choice in an increasingly unstable world: act decisively now, and learn to deal with one of the great health threats of our time. Or delay, and risk future epidemics reaching our borders before there’s time to prepare. We must not allow this fire to get out of control before we try to put it out” (3/14).