outbreaks in a rapidly changing central africa — lessons from ebola

west and central africa are experiencing explosive growth in urban populations, economic activities, and connectivity. the recent ebola virus epidemic in west africa demonstrated the vulnerability of the local health care infrastructure to newly emerging infectious diseases. two key factors contributing to the epidemic’s unprecedented size were growth-related: large urban populations that overwhelmed the public health infrastructure of these resource-poor countries and the extensive spatial and technological connectivity of the population…

recent economic gains in several central african countries have not yet resulted in increased investments in health care infrastructure. thus, strong international commitments of donor funds will be necessary to prevent devastating infectious disease outbreaks. world bank trust funds, such as the pandemic emergency financing facility, can provide rapid surge financing during the initial stages of a severe outbreak. but we believe that long-term funding programs should also be made available for direct investment in the strengthening and sustaining of general health systems. this strategy will not only enable a better and faster response to emerging infectious diseases, but will also result in permanent improvements in quality of life through better access to care.

read more of this perspective article by vincent munster, et al, in the new england journal of medicine.

my reaction?

i think we need much stronger health systems, absolutely. the other issue is of the human-animal interface. in africa, and around the world, we are becoming increasingly aware of the risk of zoonotic transmission of novel viruses. we need a “one-health” approach to medicine. i was having a conversation with a premedical student about this recently. the “spillover” model is true, and we urgently need to engage with this work. the other factor is good governance. politicians need to represent the will of the people, all around the world. that requires education, a “cultural strategy,” and door-to-door organizing for social change.

what do you think?

please leave a reply below.

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