The world is still "grossly underprepared" for infectious disease outbreaks, which are likely to occur more frequently in the following decades, according to an international team of experts. The reviewed reports on recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa showed that being better prepared and responding in a more coordinated manner could have prevented 11,000 deaths due to Ebola.

In August 2014, the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In spite of the international efforts, the situation was not controlled well. It could have been managed significantly better and the infectious disease could have caused fewer deaths. 

Ebola Outbreak, A Resource Management Problem

The research, conducted at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, synthesized seven of the most important reports in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak and discussed the key problems and recommendations. Additionally, the team also underlined the most important gaps between the recommendations and the course of action in each case.

"Ebola, and more recently Zika and yellow fever, have demonstrated that we do not yet have a reliable or robust global system for preventing, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks," noted the researchers. Based on the research results, there were three critical key areas: strengthening compliance with the International Health Regulations; improving research and knowledge sharing: and reforming WHO.

"We found remarkable consensus on what went wrong with the Ebola response and what we need to do to address the deficiencies. Yet not nearly enough has been done," the authors added.

The research was created in an attempt to raise the issue of global mobilization of resources when it comes to health threats, in order to better monitor and prevent the spread of the infectious diseases as well as the deaths caused by it.

The average death rate of Ebola virus is approximately 50 percent, and case fatality rates have varied from 25 percent to 90 percent in the outbreaks. The first documented cases happened in the remote villages of Central Africa, located close to tropical rainforests. However, the vast majority of the cases in West Africa involved urban areas, along with the rural ones, according to the WHO.

"Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization," notes the WHO website.

Outbreak Management, Far From Ideal

While the WHO has issued numerous recommendations concerning the health control measures that should be taken into account by most individuals, many of the areas where the outbreak occurred were not able to take the necessary precautions.

There have been more than 28,000 reported Ebola cases, with more than 11,000 deaths. The end of the Ebola transmission was, however, followed by the Zika outbreak. The current report shows that the world's resources could be handled significantly better and the current ways of dealing with outbreaks are far from ideal.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.