Via The Globe and Mail, an op-ed by Stephen Cornish, executive director of MSF Canada: Ebola outbreak calls for a global response. Excerpt:
Up until now, MSF has been among just a handful of organizations responding to the Ebola crisis on the ground. But our efforts are reaching a tipping point: We and our partners will soon be too overwhelmed to do any more, and we will no longer be able to respond to new cases.
There have been some welcome signs that others have at last recognized the severity of the emergency, and are ready to take action. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, announced last week the release of additional funds to fight the outbreak. This is an excellent first step, but funding must translate into immediate, effective action, such as adding hundreds more of qualified personnel on the ground.
A job on this scale requires a co-ordinated global response: It is the responsibility of the WHO to mobilize the necessary resources and to guarantee immediate impact on the ground.
As for Canada, we’ve been encouraged by this country’s response to date, and by the fact that the government is looking into ways of scaling up its response. Canada and other governments need to act quickly, and should send to the region their infectious disease experts in epidemiological surveillance and others who can help build the medical and logistical capacity to treat patients. A massive deployment by all actors must happen immediately to help contain this epidemic.
Some of the unique needs of this crisis, however, go beyond medical capacity: One of the biggest challenges facing our teams on the ground has been the hostility they have met from people who associate our efforts to treat patients with the arrival of the disease in their midst.
A lack of information about Ebola contributes to panic, and drives many infected people away from the treatment they urgently require. This, in turn, sends the outbreak to new and unknown places, and makes the challenge of containing it that much more difficult.
Organizations with capacity for grassroots community education are therefore needed on the ground, and should be called upon to step up to this immediate challenge.