When the most recent outbreak of Ebola began in March 2014, it could have been stopped with inexpensive, low-technology approaches. But the world largely ignored the unfolding epidemic. Now, the epidemic is skyrocketing because of this negligence. In this piece for ForeignPolicy.com, Laurie Garrett explains what the World Health Organization and the United Nations have not explained to date, and talks with Barbara Kerstiens, a former Doctors Without Borders volunteer who worked in the Kikwit epidemic in 1995, about lessons learned.
Dr. Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières, spoke at UN Special Briefing on Ebola on September 2, 2014. Dr. Liu lists priorities as "scaling up isolation centers; deploying mobile laboratories to improve diagnostic capabilities; establishing dedicated air bridges to move personnel and equipment to and within West Africa; and building a regional network of field hospitals to treat suspected or infected medical personnel."
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued this roadmap for scaled-up response to the Ebola outbreak and for coordinated international support. WHO states that it aims to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries (particularly Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) within 6-9 months and prevent international spread.
The marketplace for medicines is highly fragmented and globalized, posing acute public health threats. Stewart Patrick and Jeffrey Wright assert that a global coalition of medicines regulators, designed with distinct features in mind, would better ensure the safety and integrity of our medicines.
The governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have escalated their counterattack on the Ebola virus, imposing cordons sanitaires aimed at isolating entire regions of their countries in hopes of containing the enemy. Although many in the media accuse these governments of being inhumane or overly severe, Laurie Garrett pulls from her experience in the Ebola outbreak of 1995 in Kikwit, Zaire to show that these dramatic steps can work.
Laurie Garrett explains that experimental drugs and airport screenings will do nothing to stop this current Ebola outbreak. If Ebola hits Lagos, the needs for international assistance will grow exponentially.
Even after the World Health Organization's that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, Laurie Garrett and Maxine Builder argue in the Sunday Express that there is no clear framework for leadership in a globalized epidemic such as this, and without it, the response will be ineffective and Ebola will quickly spiral further out of control.
Short-term focus on Ebola control cannot be disconnected from a longer term commitment to economic and technical support of the affected nations' health care systems, roads, schools and general development, writes Laurie Garrett.
The Ebola epidemic now raging across three countries in West Africa is three-fold larger than any other outbreak ever recorded for this terrible disease; the only one to have occurred in urban areas and to cross national borders; and officially urgent and serious.
The popularity of e-cigarettes presents an enormous opportunity for public health, which the United States is at risk of squandering by regulating these products as tobacco, writes CFR's Thomas Bollyky.
Yanzhong Huang argues that the BRICs grouping of countries, which makes sense in the coordination of global macroeconomic policy, cannot be assumed to be relevant in the development of any global health policy.
Peter R. Orszag argues that much of the recent acceleration in U.S. health-care spending is temporary, but he cautions that the acceleration could become permanent if U.S. policy makers do not move more quickly to shift health-care payments to a fee-for-value basis.
A SARS-like disease called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that kills a third of those it infects is suddenly, and mysteriously, surging inside Saudi Arabia. Laurie Garrett examines some of the possible causes and analyzes what steps need to be taken to prevent a global outbreak.
Late last October, the management expert Jeffrey Zients was given a mandate to fix HealthCare.gov, the website at the forefront of U.S. President Barack Obama's health-care reform, after its disastrous launch.