Health Officials: Continued Vigilance on Ebola Crisis

Ebola CrisisSince 2013, the Ebola crisis has devastated countries across the world, from the highly contagious West Africa to the United States. Not long after the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease a “public health emergency of international concern,” on August 8, 2014.

However, in a statement made earlier this year, the WHO declared that the “likelihood of international spread is low.” As of January 6, 2016, the number of Ebola outbreaks since 2013 totaled 28,637. In addition, there have been eight cases of Ebola between February and March.

According to the New York Times, on April 6, officials from the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department announced the reallocation of its $510 million Ebola budget towards combatting the Zika virus.

The government, however, is far from declaring the Ebola outbreak over and the two deadly viruses are non-competing. Of note, the Obama Administration’s 2014 Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was a response to crippled infrastructure in countries impacted by health crises.

In promotion of the WHO’s International Health Regulations and other global health security frameworks, “the GHSA serves to stimulate investment in the needed capacity – infrastructure, equipment, and above all skilled personnel – and empowers countries, international organizations and civil society to work together to achieve focused goals.”

This entails a U.S. commitment to the eradication of the ebola crisis, mitigation of recurring outbreaks and partnerships with affected countries for infrastructure enhancement.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine compares the diagnoses and treatment techniques of the Ebola and Zika viruses.

In explaining the improved sharing mechanisms and response techniques, Dr. Charlotte Huang writes, “Many lessons learned from the response to the recent Ebola outbreak have helped in the response to the ZIKV outbreak. Most important, there is general agreement on the need for international collaboration on regulatory issues, research, and data sharing.”

Nahid Bhadelia, an infection disease physician at Boston Medical Center has also noted the importance of “[having] continued vigilance in West Africa,” due to likely flare ups and the potential transmission by the 17,000 Ebola survivors who still might have the virus.

Nora Harless

Photo: Flickr