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Ebola Response

October 5, 2014

I read an article recently saying that the response to the Ebola epidemic in Africa is being led by charities, MSF in particular.  The author was incredulous at that fact, and wondered where the Western governments were.  Where are the governments in this crisis?  I’d expect WHO to be leading the way, but I understand that they don’t have the funding to respond properly.  As a UN agency, the member governments are the only source of funding for WHO.

I see that Canada has pledged another 30 million dollars, with this money going to the Red Cross and similar agencies.  That’s charities again.  The US is sending military units.  At least that’s government this time.  No doubt the people in the affected African countries are  suspicious of this activity.  After all, the US military is also killing people in other parts of Africa.  The US is building field hospitals for treating Ebola patients.  That’s certainly a good thing, and one that’s needed there.  It’s also late in coming.

I’d like to see an international body in charge of the Ebola response.  The UN, through it’s agency WHO, is the obvious choice.  I understand, though, that WHO can’t respond because of funding limitations.  Didn’t Canada cut their contribution to the UN?  Didn’t the US cut theirs?  I wonder if the US wants to bypass WHO and do it itself.

The rest of the world seems to be waiting for a miracle.  I hear mention of an experimental Ebola vaccine in the news frequently, even though it will take months or years for development of an effective vaccine to be completed.  It’s containment that’s needed now to stop the spread of Ebola, and to save the largest number of people from acquiring the disease.  People who do have Ebola need high-quality treatment, even though it can only counteract the symptoms for the time being.

I see that Canada is sending a second Ebola virus testing laboratory to Sierra Leone.  This is certainly something that is needed, something that will save many lives.  It’s also late in coming.


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