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How an “outbreak culture” worsened the Ebola epidemic 2014-2016 in West Africa

When Ebola broke out in West Africa in 201 4, it spread with dizzying speed – and outwitted responders. When…

When Ebola broke out in West Africa in 201

4, it spread with dizzying speed – and outwitted responders. When the epidemic ended in 2016, more than 28,000 people had been infected and 11,325 had died. It did not have to be so, write Pardis Sabeti and Lara Salahi. In the “Outbreak Culture: Ebola crisis and the next epidemic” they reveal the chaos behind the world’s response to Ebola’s outbreaks 2014-2016, setting out how it could have been avoided.

Sabeti, a genetic researcher, was on a team that decided when and where Ebola first jumped from animal to human. However, when she collaborated with officials in the field in West Africa, she saw that the answer was uncoordinated. Interpersonal tensions are brewed. Politics and logistics slowed down the response process. Too often, fear came with catastrophic consequences.

Salahi, a journalist and Sabeti make a case for what is called “eruption culture”, a harmful and toxic situation that develops during the infestation of an infectious disease. This culture thrives on denial, riot and distrust. Ethics may fall as the poor actors use epidemics to strengthen their careers. responders on earth encrypt for the resources they need.

It’s as predictable as a plot for a bad movie – and it happens over and over again, the authors write.

Voted in personal stories and testimony, the book is a critical, grabbing postmortem of the epidemic. But the authors are not happy just to list the many failures in the recent crisis. They submit a plan to maintain such outbreak cultures and allow organizations to coordinate, information to flow freely and public health campaigns to counter fatal diseases.

“The next epidemic requires better,” they say.

Their words are painful in time. Africa faces another Ebola infection – this time in an active war zone in Congo.

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Faela