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Pandemic Disease: Never again

As the Ebola epidemic draws gradually to its close, how should the world arm itself against the risks of insurgent infections?

 THE ECONOMIST                                                                                        March 21,  2015

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As Ebola Crisis Ebbs, Aid Agencies Turn To Building Up Health Systems

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO by Nurith Aizenman                March 23, 2015

Recruiting and training new health workers is key, because experts warn that unless the health systems in West Africa are brought up to scratch, an epidemic on the scale of this one will happen again.

A nurse walks near the empty children's ward at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, Monrovia, Liberia. David Gilkey/NPR

Unfortunately, building national health systems doesn't tend to attract a lot of love from international donors, says Erin Hohlfelder, who's been pushing for this kind of funding on behalf of the ONE Campaign, a global health advocacy group.

"It's certainly not as 'sexy' — quote unquote — as things like treatment for HIV or bed nets for malaria, which are very tangible and easy to understand."

She says at least for now, the international community does seem to get the importance of building up West Africa's health systems. The governments of the affected countries are preparing national plans to present at a meeting of the World Bank next month

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Energy Agency Sees More Oil Declines, Potential for Conflict


FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, file photo, oil pumps work at sunset in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain. Oil prices have further to drop with no signs of slowing production in the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency, Friday, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File) - Associated Press

ABC News - AP - March 13, 2015

Oil prices have further to drop with few signs of slowing production in the U.S., according to a global energy agency.

The International Energy Agency, a watchdog group based in Paris that represents the world's main oil-importing nations, said in its monthly report Friday that the recent stabilization in oil prices is "precarious."

"Behind the facade of stability, the rebalancing triggered by the price collapse has yet to run its course," it said.

That may be playing out right now. Oil prices tumbled 10 percent this week, including a 5 percent drop Friday.

The IEA cautioned that risks of oil supply disruptions are growing. Low prices could raise the risk of social disruption in some countries dependent on oil, the agency said, and the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Libya hasn't slowed down.

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Ebola: Moving from emergency to recovery

DEVEX   by Richard Jones                                                         March 17, 2015

(scroll down for link to EU statement.)

As the death toll from Ebola now tops 10,000 in West Africa, donors and aid implementers are figuring out how to best transition from the emergency to the recovery phase of the crisis.

Top EU and U.N. officials, leaders of Ebola-affected nations and representatives from the African Union, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and the scientific community met in Brussels, Belgium, earlier this month to make progress on this goal. They agreed to embark on the design of a road map to help the economies of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia get back on track, starting with the priority task of rebuilding health systems.

But that, of course, will be no easy feat.

“We are at a really crucial stage of the real fight against Ebola, because this is a turning point when the emergency stage or the emergency response or medical response to Ebola containment is now turning into coordinating and structuring the long-term recovery program,” European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said in an exclusive interview with Devex at the Palais d’Egmont in Brussels.

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Ebola could cost West Africa $15 billion over three years

REUTERS  by Misha Hussain                                                    March 12, 2015sC

(Scroll down for links to press release and full report.)

DAKAR -- West Africa may lose up to $15 billion over the next three years due to the impact of the Ebola outbreak on trade, investment and tourism, according to a report by the United Nations.

The world's deadliest Ebola epidemic has killed almost 10,000 people in the three most affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, deepening poverty in one of the least developed parts of the world.

"The consequences of Ebola are vast," said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Africa director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"Stigma and risk aversion have caused considerable amounts of damage, shutting down borders and indirectly affecting the economies of a large number of countries in the sub-region."

Read complete story;_ylt=AwrBJSCTtwFVoAIAda3QtDMD

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Waning interest is biggest risk in race to overcome Ebola: WHO

REUTERS     by Tom Miles                                                                                        March 11, 2015

GENEVA -Waning interest in Ebola could jeopardize efforts to stamp out the world's worst recorded outbreak of the disease, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Nameplates are seen at a cemetery for victims of Ebola virus in Suakoko, Liberia, March 11, 2015.  Reuters/James Giahyue

Case numbers have fallen to a low level and it should be possible to stop transmission by mid-year, but the disease is "not waning" and it is much too early to assume the outbreak will end, said WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward.

"We talk often about how steep the drop in cases has been. The only thing that has dropped more quickly and more steeply is the new contributions in financing," he told reporters in Geneva. 

...the failure to make further inroads is "alarming", Aylward said.

"Getting from here to zero is going to require another reinvestment (in the drive to tackle the outbreak)."

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Ebola-Stricken Countries Lagged in Health Systems

CLICK HERE - REPORT - A WAKE-UP CALL - Lessons from Ebola for the world’s health systems (50 page .PDF report) - by Donald G. McNeil Jr. - March 9, 2015

The world has spent more than $4 billion fighting Ebola, but according to a new report from Save the Children, it would have cost only $1.6 billion to bring health care systems up to minimum standards in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, which might have prevented the outbreak or ended it faster.

Even before Ebola struck West Africa, more than 25 countries had health care systems worse than those in impoverished Liberia and Sierra Leone, the report also found.

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Ebola crisis could force Sierra Leone to diversify away from mining

THE GUARDIAN  by                                                          March 10, 2015

As Sierra Leone looks to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic, it may be forced to diversify from a mining-heavy economic base. Falling iron ore prices and the effects of Ebola on the industry signal the need for change, according to the chairman of the Chamber of Mines, who said the diversification could be beneficial.

A mine in Koidu, Sierra Leone. Falling iron ore prices and the Ebola crisis could force changes in the mining sector.Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

 John Bonoh Sisay said mining companies will also have to change the way they interact with local people, placing a greater emphasis on supporting healthcare systems as part of corporate social responsibility.

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Can Mental Health Services Spur Economic Recovery in Ebola-ravaged Liberia?

MAD in AMERICA                                                                                        March 9, 2015

What's the key to rebuilding Liberian communities and igniting the country's economic recovery in the wake of the devastation of the Ebola epidemic and civil war? Expanding mental health services, reported articles in Nature, Devex, StarAfrica and other outlets.

A new three-year, $3 million effort to expand mental health services in Liberia is being funded by the government of Japan through a World Bank-administered trust fund, reported Devex. "Developers of the project hope that an increased focus on mental health will help spur economic recovery and growth in the devastated region by helping build social capital and community trust, while fostering positive coping behaviors," stated Devex. "A new squad of child mental health clinicians will be deployed to approximately 60 schools, while community-based interventions beyond Ebola-affected communities will be strengthened...."

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