“Just off telephone with senior US Government source discussing Ebola. Here is a summary of our conversation:
1. The great surprise has been how WHO was “overwhelmed” by this epidemic, raising serious questions about the agency’s role and capacity.
2. US experts have modelled the Ebola epidemic and predict it will last for at least another 4-6 months. The curve should break in the Fall.
3. By early 2015, we should see Ebola cases begin to decline, but the virus will persist in West Africa.
4. This Ebola epidemic is not like any past outbreak. Urban spread + a large pool of susceptibles makes this a complex and uncertain crisis.
5. The biggest constraint facing efforts to defeat Ebola has been getting local/international health workers to respond.
6. To successfully control the epidemic we need a large pipeline of health workers ready to mobilise—we need a surge in training capacity.
7. We also need countries committed to taking patients with Ebola for hospital treatment, and not just their own nationals.
8. The seriousness of Ebola is shown by the fact that it is the first health crisis to mobilise a US DART—Disaster Assistance Response Team.
9. The White House has been involved in the global Ebola response since July. On Sep 26, WH hosts conference on global health security.
10. The US government conclusion is that global health security has been woefully neglected + under resourced—needs massive new commitment.
11. The US Ebola response has 4 pillars: first, control the epidemic. This was the Obama statement yesterday.
12. Second, respond to second-order impacts, especially the economic crisis/collapse that will quickly follow Ebola.
13. Third, strengthen coordination and leadership inside and outside the US government—across US agencies and with the UN/World Bank.
14. Finally, begin a long-term rebuild of health systems and public health surveillance. And take a critical look at WHO and its weaknesses.
Ebola, a final message: all health professionals have a responsibility to mobilise the spirit/solidarity of the health community globally.”