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Lessons from the latest Ebola eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo

So far we have succeeded. After 2 months, the outbreak of the latest Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of…

So far we have succeeded. After 2 months, the outbreak of the latest Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo or the DRC, although terrible, has not been as bad as some of us in the public health community had feared. It has not spread to neighboring Uganda, or to Kenya, then on to Europe or the United States, which triggers panic and global public health and economic crisis.

Lesson 1: Local Preparation

Whether it is Ebola, Pandemic Flu, or a Pandemic Flu. A new virus is the only way forward strong, coordinated leadership of local health departments, health ministries, elected officials, non-governmental organizations as a physician without borders and the WHO.

Preparation must start at local level. Our qualitative research study showed that the involvement of community leaders, caregivers, traditional doctors and patients is important for building trust. This is especially true of places with low literacy. Contact tracking, follow-up and vaccination are resource-intensive in areas of poverty, conflict and uncertainty.

Lesson 2: Rural Leadership

Democratic Republic of the Congo is responsible for investment in infection control in local health care facilities. It is important to understand that we can not prevent interaction between humans and animals and therefore can not necessarily prevent introductions of Ebola or new viruses. But we can prevent outbreaks. Each introduction that has developed into an outbreak has been due to poor infection control in the healthcare industry. When Ebola spreads within a care facility, it becomes a social problem. But the most important thing that can easily be done is to secure healthcare delivery. It should be both an ethical and a security obligation for governments. It’s not cheap, but it’s important.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is poor and is often seen by Westerners as addicted, but the country actually has wealth that has been abused or misunderstood. We must also study the colonial history and cruelties that occurred in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo to understand the current situation. We must start thinking about how to influence countries to educate public health workers and epidemiologists rather than soldiers.

Lesson 3: Global Leadership

At global level, the WHO has taught his lesson and done a good job in the direction of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc. This year, it may be the first time that a director-general of the WHO visited an early retirement area early in the reply. The wider issue is when the world will invest not only in people and deliveries, but logistics. Getting in and out of the countryside to deliver important supplies and medicines should be easier. Global health agencies should have the same logistics infrastructure as military personnel do. The advent of drones and advanced communication technologies should help with the supply chain.

Lesson 4: Coordination, Communication and Relations

The resources used for CDC and US outbreaks should be better coordinated. The decisions for who are deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the WHO headquarters and neighboring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda are challenging and require long-term relationships and excellent communication.

CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program and the newly formed Africa CDC also need to be funded and staffed appropriately. Experts are needed to work for cross-border health, communication, safety, laboratory raising and cultural awareness. Training and cultural awareness is very important.

Lesson 5: Global Health Safety

More generally, cuts are expected in the United States Global Health Care Agenda, a plan to prevent and combat infectious threats. We need to build capacity for a response to the country. Cuts limit the CDC and the US government’s ability to do so. Financing must be increased.

The United States should also re-establish a Global Health Safety Agency in the NSA Security Council. Since its inception under President Harry S. Truman, the NSC’s function has been to help the president with national security and foreign policy. Pandemic preparedness is an essential part of national security.

NSC should coordinate with the CDC epidemic intelligence service, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and Navy Medicine, as well as academic medical centers and public health departments.

Lesson 6: Advocacy

Organizations like America’s Infectious Diseases Society need to lobby more witty for funding and coordination. And infectious diseases clinics, an integral part of the first line response to infections of public health issues, like Ebola, need to act. Knowledge of outbreaks is important, but delusions are crucial. We must all talk before it’s too late. True cooperation is what is needed for global health to succeed.

Notes: Lederer reports no relevant financial information.

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