News / Health

Analysts: Funding, Coordination May Affect Fight Against Ebola

A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 14, 2014.
A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 14, 2014.
William Eagle

This month, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a global public health emergency.   Many international and national organizations are working to get supplies to medical teams in the field.  

The international effort and the challenges facing the region were topics of discussion earlier this month at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Health officials say with Ebola’s emergency designation, there will be a push to develop drugs to thwart the virus and to strengthen weakened national health care systems to identify, quarantine, and treat the infected.

Needed urgently are medical technicians, nurses, doctors, epidemiologists and trained health care workers.

Listen to report on challenges of Ebola relief efforts
Listen to report on challenges of Ebola relief effortsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The U.S. government is deploying a number of agencies, including the Department of State, The Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Defense. They are assisting with communications, supplies, and technical and medical expertise. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) has spent $14 million in response efforts  including the activation of a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). It will coordinate planning, logistics and other areas of the interagency response.  

Some health care experts are concerned about the management and coordination of the response.

Budget cuts

Laurie Garrett, a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, expresses concern about the funding needed to contain the virus.

She says budget cuts may have diminished the capacity of the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the leading institutions involved in the emergency response.

"Let's keep in mind, WHO has been running on a budget deficit," she said. "The World Health Assembly voted in their last session to cut the emergency epidemic response capacity of WHO. And if it weren't for the announcement from the World Bank that it will put $200 million into the effort, we basically would have an effort on the ground in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia funded on fumes, volunteer donations, and, you know, a few hundred people who are being unpaid to risk their lives in the middle of this outbreak."

Learning from experience

Garrett says there should be a strategic plan that makes clear the chain of command in the relief effort.  The plan would also take into consideration past failures in global health emergencies, including the swine flu in 2009.  Though the virus developed in the U.S., Mexico was hit hard.  Garrett says Mexico received little international support by being open about the problem.

"Mexico followed all the rules of the game. They told the whole world, 'We have it.' They were completely transparent and open," she said. "They tried to bring it under control, and the response of the international community was, 'Woah, shut the borders to Mexico. Don't let any Mexican planes land anywhere. Penalize Mexico for having this outbreak.'  That sent a message to the whole world, 'Wow, don't comply with regulations. Don't try and be a good global citizen in an outbreak because the rest of the world is going to really not be kind to you for doing so.'"

A more appropriate solution, she says, would have been a strategy that includes coordinated government responses to such emergencies.  Today, many states have ad hoc plans that often contradict each other.

John Campbell, a Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and also a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says countries could begin to devise protocols under the aegis of Africa’s regional organizations, such as the African Union or ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.

Politics and management 

Good governance also comes into play in managing the crisis.

Campbell says one government that has responded well is Lagos State in Nigeria.  When a man infected with Ebola arrived in the commercial capital, Lagos (the city),  officials began tracing everyone he’d come in contact with - and quarantining him.

"In Lagos [State], a highly effective governor has been succeeded by another highly effective governor. And something approaching a social contract in Lagos is now emerging, a social contract in which people pay taxes and hold their governments accountable for providing services," he said.  "Again, when you're talking about a city of 22 million people and with the porosity of boundaries and the movement of people, it's quite possible that even the authorities in Lagos will be overwhelmed. I certainly hope not, and it hasn't happened yet."

Challenges

But, Campbell warns that there’s real potential in urban areas for the rapid spread of the virus.  Slums are packed with people, compared to rural areas, where there’s less density.  Urban migrants may all speak dialects or languages from their region, which also makes education campaigns more difficult. Proposed solutions include involving in information campaigns influence-makers, including religious leaders.

Not all religious leaders -- or populations -- are amenable to Western health interventions.  In northern Nigeria, polio vaccinators have been killed, and today, the area is the site of fighting between the military and Boko Haram militants who reject Western education and medicine.

As with others in West Africa, some northerners deny the existence of Ebola.  Or, they say health workers are infecting them the disease or with sterilizing medicines.

"A huge unknown for us right now is how Boko Haram sees itself in the context of, you know, sort of global mobilized health campaigns and whether -- if there were Ebola in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram would be as obstructive as many are now being on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia," Laurie Garrett said.

Both senior fellows stress says it’s imperative for the international community to develop a comprehensive strategy for controlling emergency outbreaks, like Ebola.  Campbell says there are plenty of diseases in Africa that can turn into pandemics.

When Ebola burns itself out, he says, there’s a good chance it will be replaced with something else. 

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
August 22, 2014 11:05 AM
Excellent article; tough situation ahead. Potentially the key to finding an antidote, be it a vaccination or a medication, is to be found/the answer could be found in the blood/genetics of those that have recovered from Ebola. The African nations need to be helped by the scientific communities in the West. Without an antidote the situation will be extremely difficult to contain/stop. In my view, a bank of data/info on recovered victims needs to be established, potentially one or more, recovered from the disease persons, may hold the key to an antidote.

The fact that some victms recover on their own, may indicate that there is a genetic component or a past infection with a similar virus that provides the recovering immunity, through a residual anti-body or a genetic process. No question that more needs to be done, to help the people of Africa out of this very negative situation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid