Via Metro, Helen Branswell of The Canadian Press interviews Dr. Joanne Liu: Park the Ebola blame, MSF president says. Excerpt:
The international president of Medecins Sans Frontieres says it’s time to move on from the process of blame-laying for the globe’s disastrously slow response to the West African Ebola outbreak.
Montrealer Dr. Joanne Liu said the world should be focused on fixing the problem, rather than figuring out who is at fault for the fact that the global community failed to grasp how bad this outbreak would become.
“I think that we need to move away from finding a scapegoat for the fact that we got where we are, because there’s a lot of attention towards (that) and I don’t think it’s constructive attention,” Liu said in an interview from MSF’s Geneva headquarters.
“I think that where we have to focus our attention today is bringing an answer to West Africa, to contain the epidemic in the highly infected countries and to prevent repeating that history in the neighbouring countries and increasing the emergency preparedness (in the region).”
“This is where we should concentrate our efforts and our lobbying and our advocacy right now.”
Liu was referring to an internal World Health Organization document that The Associated Press and Bloomberg obtained last week. The report — which the WHO later said was preliminary and had not yet been fact-checked — painted a damning picture of the agency’s own initial response to the outbreak.
This outbreak is more than 20 times larger than the previous largest known Ebola outbreak. The case total to date — more than 9,200, with over 4,555 deaths — is more than three times larger than the total number of infections in all previous outbreaks combined.
Liu said that help has been arriving in the region, with American military personnel conducting assessments and other non-governmental organizations moving in to open or take over Ebola treatment centres.
But she said the work of delivering on promises is slow. “We know that it takes six to eight weeks to deliver.”
Her organization is pressing governments to make good on pledges made after the special meeting of the UN Security Council on Ebola in September. MSF — also known as Doctors Without Borders — is reminding pledgers that in the weeks it takes to translate a promise into a treatment bed, the problem on the ground has continued to deteriorate.
“We really well know that when those pledges were made in September, they were tailored to the needs of that time. And the situation is dynamic and evolving,” Liu said.
“And most likely we’re still going to be running after a train that is moving forward, but we will not have jumped yet on the train to stop it.”