Thanks to Lucie Lecomte for sending the link to this overview in The Economist: Ebola: Fever rising. Excerpt:
In the long term, several things will be needed to prevent a repetition of the chaos of this outbreak. The World Bank will direct some of its funding towards improving west Africa’s teetering health systems. As African countries get richer, they should invest more in their own health systems, too. Properly staffed, well-supplied clinics would help countries handle not just outbreaks of Ebola, but more common diseases such as malaria and HIV.
Nigeria’s health system is hardly a model—its response to Ebola has been hampered by a strike of government health workers—but it provides a glimpse of how countries might cope with outbreaks in future. The health ministry has been sending text messages detailing symptoms to watch for, protective measures and hotlines to ring to seek care.
New vaccines and drugs to treat Ebola will also be needed. Some are already being developed, including one called ZMapp, which was given to two infected American health workers. Much has been made of these experimental medications, but none has been properly tested in humans.
Nevertheless, on August 12th a WHO committee of scientists and ethicists recommended that their use be allowed in west Africa, subject to certain conditions. Also on that day Canada’s government said it would donate up to 1,000 doses of a new Ebola vaccine to the WHO. Whether it works or how it will be distributed is still unclear.
Of the experimental treatments, ZMapp has attracted the most attention. But given the early stage of the drug’s development, there is as yet no system for manufacturing it in bulk, even if it were to prove effective.
The toll from this outbreak looks set to rise. But at least the severity of the disease is recognised. At a Kenema coffee shop made of corrugated iron, patrons used to doubt that the virus was real. “Ebola no dae,” they would declare, in the local krio language. The mood now is different. “Ebola is there,” announced one elderly tea-drinker. “It is worse than the war.”