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How Bad Data Fed the Ebola Epidemic


Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times - By RACHEL GLENNERSTER, HERBERT M’CLEOD and TAVNEET SURI - January 30, 2015

. . . Valid, credible and timely data is essential during a global crisis. Without reliable data, efforts to assist affected people and to rebuild damaged communities can be misdirected and inefficient. . .

The West African Ebola outbreak first hit Sierra Leone in May 2014, followed by an explosion of cases in the capital Freetown in the autumn. . .

The early days of the crisis were characterized by a sense of immense fear, anxiety and alarm, regionally and globally. .

Misleading reports, speculation and poor projections from international agencies, government ministries and the media about the Ebola outbreak exacerbated the problem.


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Global Health Security: The Next Five Years - Andrew C. Weber - Christine Parthemore

The next five years will see crucial changes in the global health security landscape, profoundly shaped by two key events in 2014:

The Ebola response in West Africa, and the successful first year of the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative of dozens of countries and non-governmental organizations to make tangible commitments for preventing, rapidly detecting, and effectively responding to infectious disease threats.(1) 

Both events brought to light signs of measurable progress, and profound gaps that must be prioritized in the years ahead. Pressing needs include expanding emergency operations center capacity, better leveraging technological innovation, and closing the gap between the health and security communities.


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Ebola is creating a new epidemic of untreated illness and injury

PUBLC RADIO INTERNATIONAL   Producer Leo Hornak                                                         Jan. 28, 2015

MONROVIA --Sharon McDonnell is seeing a new public health crisis unfold in West Africa: droves of patients without Ebola who are turned away from medical facilities.

The Maine-based epidemiologist, who is in Liberia with the International Rescue Committee, says things are much better now than they were two months ago when she first visited Liberia. The hospital where she is based, Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, Liberia, has recently reopened after shutting down in October....

A taxi bringing a pregnant women with obstructed labor arrives at Redemption Hospital's "other" entrance for ambulance and inpatients. The Redemption hospital staff member came out in PPE (personal protective equipment) to talk with her and the family to make sure she could be seen in the hospital. Credit: Sharon McDonnell

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How Ebola Found Fertile Ground in ​Sierra Leone's Chaotic Capital


Kroo Bay in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, became an Ebola hot spot in December. In one of the city's most densely populated areas, residents had a difficult time avoiding contact with people potentially infected with Ebola.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC    by Amy Maxman    Photos by Pete Muller                                                       Jan. 27, 2015
....A close examination of what made Freetown so vulnerable to the outbreak offers critical lessons for the future in fighting Ebola or another major calamity. 

Like many developing world cities, Freetown—population 941,000, the largest city in Sierra Leone—lacks the infrastructure to support its impoverished populace, making it prone to tragedy, whether through pestilence, violence, or natural disaster. Despite its congestion, Freetown continues to attract people who come in search of work, school, and the mere promise of electricity. It's no coincidence that typhoid and cholera regularly plague Freetown and that Sierra Leone's civil war climaxed in the city with horrific bloodshed.

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Lessons from Ebola: Toward a Post-2015 Strategy for Pandemic Response

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

This event has concluded. View the replay above. - Date: January 27th 2015 - Location: Georgetown University & Online Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET (21:00 - 22:00 GMT)

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, will deliver Georgetown’s inaugural Global Futures lecture.

The lecture, “Lessons from Ebola: A post-2015 strategy for pandemic response,” will kick off a semester-long conversation about the “Global Future of Development” at Georgetown as part of the university’s new Global Futures Initiative.

His talk on Jan. 27 will connect ongoing efforts to stop the spread of infection in West Africa with longer-term efforts to improve public health systems that support economic and social development in countries vulnerable to future pandemics.

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After Ebola: Why Rural Development Matters in a Time of Crisis

COMMENTARY:  HUFFINGTON POST  by President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)                                                                                                                                 Jan. 26, 2015

....Now we must begin to look at what happens to the affected communities after Ebola. A food crisis seems increasingly likely to follow in the wake of the epidemic, which has devastated small-scale farmers. Without investment in their long-term development, farming households - and West Africa's future food security - will remain at risk.

Even before the outbreak, the World Food Programme estimated that some 1.7 million people in the region faced food insecurity - defined as a lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. As a direct result of Ebola, it is expected that an additional 750,000 to 1.4 million people will become food-insecure by March.

In fact, Ebola has already affected the food supply. Farmers have stayed away from their fields due to illness, fears of infection and quarantines ordered by the authorities - or simply because there is no one left to tend the land....

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Meant to Keep Malaria Out, Mosquito Nets Are Used to Haul Fish In


Millions of mosquito nets are given out fight to malaria in Africa, yet many faced with hunger use them as fish nets, creating potential environmental problems. Video by Ben C. Solomon on Publish Date January 24, 2015. Photo by Uriel Sinai for The New York Times.

NEW YORK TIMES   by Jeffery Gettleman                           Jan. 25, 2015

BANGWEULU WETLANDS, Zambi --Across Africa, from the mud flats of Nigeria to the coral reefs off Mozambique, mosquito-net fishing is a growing problem, an unintended consequence of one of the biggest and most celebrated public health campaigns in recent years.

The nets have helped save millions of lives, but scientists worry about the collateral damage: Africa’s fish.

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Anger, mistrust in Guinea villages hinders battle to beat Ebola

REUTERS    by  By Saliou Samb                           Jan. 23, 2015           

CONAKRY --Angry residents are blocking access for health workers to dozens of remote villages in Guinea, in a sign of persistent mistrust that could threaten President Alpha Conde's aim to eradicate Ebola from the country by early March....

Guinea has recorded a sharp fall in infections in recent weeks, fuelling hope that the tide has turned against the epidemic.

But with some people still denying the incurable disease exists, experts say it could prove difficult to trace those who had been in contact with the infected and to change traditional behavior such as burial rituals involving touching the dead. These steps are seen as vital to defeating the disease....

In a sign of the resistance and distrust, medical kits sent by the government to schoolchildren were destroyed by villagers in Ourekaba, southern Guinea. ... locals thought the kits had been sent to contaminate the children.

Two security officials who arrived to investigate reports of a secret Ebola burial were lynched last week by a crowd in Sinkine, in the Forecariah region about 100 km from the capital Conakry, a police source said.

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Flu & Drug Resistance Are Next Pandemic Threats After Ebola

REUTERS    By Ben Hirschler                                   Jan. 23, 2015

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The worst-ever Ebola epidemic is waning, but after ravaging three West African nations and spreading fear from Dallas to Madrid, it has hammered home the message that the world needs a better detective system for emerging diseases.

Risks posed by pandemic threats such as deadly strains of flu and drug-resistant superbugs have shot up the agenda of global security issues at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos as politicians and scientists grapple with the lessons from an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 8,600 people.

One thing is certain: more epidemics are coming and dense urban living, coupled with modern travel, will accelerate future infectious disease outbreaks.
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WHO says cash crunch, rains could thwart Ebola efforts

REUTERS             by Stehane Nebehy                                                                                    Jan. 23, 2015

GENEVA --Halting the spread of Ebola in West Africa will depend on mobilising funds and aid workers before the rainy season hits in April-May, otherwise it could up to take a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.

But the WHO is set to run out of cash in mid-February, a key period as it tries to halt the deadly disease, a senior WHO official said.

"It is a programme that can stop transmission if we have the money and the people, and we don't have either," Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general in charge of the Ebola response, told a news briefing before a special session of WHO's Executive Board on Sunday.

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