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Published June 21, 2024

Shortcomings in Ebola epidemic should be lessons for the future

Over the past year, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people. In an interview with NPR, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the head of the World Health Organization’s Africa region, argued that the outbreak will be contained by this fall. However, many people are critical of the failures of the world’s global health response systems, including WHO.
 
Though there were many international shortfalls, I think there’s a reason to be optimistic. Health care workers in Liberia, where the crisis hit the hardest, are saying that fewer and fewer people are dying from the disease. Many local communities had tremendous opportunities to help each other. Because of how difficult it was to predict the spread of Ebola, Harvard University found a novel way to track its spread through the use of cellphone data, partnering with data carriers in Senegal and Ivory Coast. 
 
Optimism, however, isn’t a reason to become complacent. There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. The Ebola crisis spotlighted the severely 
deficient health systems in West African nations and the lackluster responses by the international community. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders felt that they simply had insufficient resources to address the crisis.
 
We need to define a clear framework for global health governance. The Ebola crisis also highlighted that the inability of many countries to work together made it easier for the epidemic to easily cross borders. 
 
We should look at the Ebola epidemic as a lesson to the international community. Blaming each other for shortfalls will only serve to hinder meaningful reforms across the board. If we are to move forward, we must do so together. 
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