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The Ebola Outbreak of 2013–2014: An Assessment of U.S. Actions


Executive Summary

 This report presents the observations, findings, and recommendations of a task force formed to examine the global response and the response of the U.S. government (USG) to the 2013–2014 Ebola outbreak and global transmission. Specifically, the task force sought to derive lessons learned and insights from the USG response to the Ebola outbreak both internationally and domestically with the goal of crafting recommendations to improve the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters, acts of bioterrorism, and various public health crises related to significant outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics....

The report’s major recommendations include:

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Managing health crises after Ebola


SCI DEVELOPMENT NET                                                                                April 29, 2015
(includes links to five feature stories and editorials on communication issues and other subjects.)
The outbreak of Ebola that has affected West Africa since December 2013 is the largest to date, with enormous human and economic costs. It has also exposed weaknesses in the global response system, including the handling of communication and complex social responses. What can we learn from this to better manage future health emergencies?

This Spotlight presents an in-depth analysis including opinions, facts and figures, and key resources. It features commentary by Sylvie Briand of the WHO, Rosamund Southgate of Médecins Sans Frontières and Annie Wilkinson of the Institute of Development Studies. 

It includes first-hand accounts by researchers with experience in the field, and interviews with social science expert Melissa Leach and communications managers at Médecins Sans Frontières-UK and BBC Media Action.
Read complete articles.

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Google and Facebook Help Nepal Earthquake Survivors and Contacts Connect

NEW YORK  TIMES  by Karen Zraick                                                                   April 28, 2015

In decades past, after a large-scale natural disaster, the people affected and their friends and loved ones often struggled to reconnect. In New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, phone lines were disrupted and people resorted to pinning missing-persons posters around the city.

But now technology and social media are transforming the ways individuals and organizations regroup after disasters and allowing people quicker access to information.

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Nine Ways We Are Beating the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

THE HUFFINGTON POST by                  April 26, 2015
.. Addressing an Ebola epidemic of this scale has taken the international community on a journey never before walked. Previously tried and tested methods have been used as well as novel strategies, but the scale that has been required is unprecedented.

Rapid response medical team outside a mobile treatment facility
Nathalie MacDermott/Samaritan's Purse International Relief

It is also apparent that no 'one size fits all' approach can work - the approach must be multifactorial, addressing the problem at it's roots within the communities where the outbreaks occur, but also on a national level to provide large scale isolation of cases and interrupt transmission of the virus.

Below are nine ways in which we are beating the Ebola epidemic in West Africa:

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Empowering local media can make the difference: 5 lessons from the Ebola crisis

DEVEX byAlison  Campbell                                                                          April 23, 2015

The Ebola crisis in West Africa was quickly recognized as being driven as much by misinformation and rumors as by weaknesses in the health care system. Mohamed Komah interviews an Ebola survivor at the Donka Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. Photo by: Internews

International response agencies invested significant resources in rolling out the Social Mobilization and Community Engagement drive, a wide-scale intensive social behavior change communication campaign. The result was a massive and rather poorly coordinated blast of messaging shared on billboards, in print, on radio and TV, through health outreach workers and community organizations, via SMS and call-in hotlines.

A preliminary assessment done by Internews in November found more than 300 types of social mobilization and messaging systems in the three worst-affected countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This chaotic information landscape consisted mainly of information “out,” with little opportunity for community dialogue....

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Understanding the Emergence of Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone: Stalking the Virus in the Threatening Wake of Emergence

PLOS  Current Outbreaks  by Nadia Wauquier and others                                             April 20, 2015

The initial steps of emergence and spread of a virus are critical in the development of a potential outbreak and need to be thoroughly dissected and understood in order to improve on preventative strategies. In the current West African outbreak of EVD, a unique index case has been identified, pinpointing the geographical origin of the epidemic in Guinea.

Herein, we provide an accounting of events that serve as the footprint of EVD emergence in Sierra Leone and a road map for risk mitigation fueled by lessons learned....

...Continuous active surveillance is needed and must be organized by specialized centers joined in local, regional, and international networks. Surveillance centers must be connected to public health systems and also to research teams for increased understanding and awareness to permit identification and implementation of rapid intervention strategies....

Read complete study  and see maps.

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Crowdsourced Mapping Could Help Prevent the Next Big Ebola Outbreak

TAKEPART.COM by Jessica Dollin                                                                     April 14, 2015

Ebola dominated headlines this past year, but the epicenter of the outbreak wasn’t on a map until after the virus had infected and killed thousands. Without geographical resources, aid workers were tasked with the challenge of navigating remote areas to locate people in need of assistance.

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Liberia succeeds in fighting Ebola with local, sector response

WHO                                                                                                          April 14, 2015
The story of how Liberia’s most populous county, Montserrado, turned around an exponentially-growing Ebola outbreak is intriguing. WHO’s team and national officials, aided by veterans from WHO’s polio eradication group in India, decentralized the response, using quality management principles that empowered local teams and held them accountable for results.

                                                                                                           WHO /Aphaluck Bhatiasevi

These local sector teams involved more than 4,000 community members, using business best practices and an incident management system to vastly improve surveillance, case finding, contact tracing, and overall management of key response activities.
Read full account.

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Public Knowledge, Perception and Source of Information on Ebola Virus Disease – Lagos, Nigeria; September, 2014

PLOS CURRENT OUTBREAKS  by Saheed Gidado and others                                                    April 8, 2015
The first ever outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria was declared in July, 2014. Level of public knowledge, perception and adequacy of information on EVD were unknown. We assessed the public preparedness level to adopt disease preventive behavior which is premised on appropriate knowledge, perception and adequate information.

Methods: We enrolled 5,322 respondents in a community-based cross-sectional study. We used interviewer-administered questionnaire to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, EVD–related knowledge, perception and source of information...

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Conference Summary: Using Lessons Learned from Previous Ebola Outbreaks to Inform Current Risk Management

CENTER FOR DISEASES CONTROL by Dickmann P, Kitua A, Kaczmarek P, Lutwama J, Masumu J, Karimuribo E, et al             April 8,2015 

Summary of conference on lessons learned from Ebola crisis

"...A major conclusion was that infectious disease management will work only when it is established with and within the community and not directed against it. This lesson requires community engagement in formulating infection control measures, as well as implementation, dissemination, and promotion of these measures. Infection control procedures are generally perceived as intrusive and, as such, often interfere with local social, cultural, and religious practices.... Building on this process of finding the right, appropriate containment measures, communication and health promotion work best when they involve community and religious leaders, traditional healers, and other advocates.

National and cross-border Ebola outbreaks are a new development, and engagement with various communities has presented a particular challenge throughout the current outbreak. A key aspect of this engagement is to devise and elaborate solutions for infection control that are consistent with local realities and practices. International health and aid organizations must strive to work in concert with communities to find adequate infection-control solutions....

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