Via MSF, a furious statement first published in Le Temps on August 27: Ebola: the failures of the international outbreak response. The authors are Thomas Nierle, president of MSF, and Bruno Jochum, its general director. Excerpt (but read the whole statement):
Dead bodies in the street, families wiped out, dozens of health care workers infected, hospitals shut down and panic and mistrust in the eyes of the people in the streets. This is what Médecins Sans Frontières usually sees in countries that are ravaged by war, but in Sierra Leone, Liberia and - to a lesser extent – Guinea, it is Ebola that is generating immense, public distress.
As of today more than 1,427 patients have succumbed to Ebola viral disease and the care centres established by Médecins Sans Frontières are overwhelmed. On 8 August, far too late, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of international concern. However, it had been officially declared in West Africa since March 2014.
Health systems have imploded
The disaster is becoming even more dramatic as the health systems in the affected region have imploded. Patients are dying of Ebola, but also of malaria, diarrhoea or complicated deliveries due to the absence of effective medical care. In Liberia especially, hospitals are deserted. And fear is spreading.
MSF has been responding to the crisis since March 2014. We have opened up more and more isolation centres throughout the affected countries to care for the sick and we have assisted the communities. For the last three months, we have actively been calling for more hands-on assistance to control the epidemic and to provide the best possible care to patients.
International response is slow, derisory, irresponsible
However, the international response is slow and derisory. It can equally be defined as irresponsible. Today, only a handful of international actors are engaged in the fight against Ebola. But this is nowhere near enough. This is an exceptional crisis, the number of new infections is still on the rise, and the virus has a serious potential to spread to other countries.
Promises of funding and political statements are not sufficient – decisive action is needed now. Case finding must be intensified, more isolation centres have to be set up, epidemiological surveillance and laboratory capacity have to be reinforced, contact tracing and follow-up must be strengthened, communities must be sensitised, experienced staff and training are needed in the field, and general health services must be reopened: these activities must be properly coordinated inside and beyond the borders of the affected countries. This necessitates a hands-on, operational approach.
The situation can only be reversed if there is a significant commitment of states with available effective disaster response capacity - be it through civil protection mechanisms, the support of military medicine units or of logistics or medical staff who are used to working with strict infection prevention and control measures.