Tuesday 19 May 2015

Ebola in West Africa - the way forwards

A special webcast on Ebola is available to view online.

More than a year into the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to respond  in the affected countries. Although the number of recorded cases has decreased, much work remains to be done — the outbreak has ravaged health systems, forcing many medical facilities to close and killing hundreds of health personnel.  While non-Ebola health concerns must be addressed, from maternal health care to vaccinations, epidemiological surveillance and community awareness of Ebola must be improved to ensure that the outbreak is stopped.

The unprecedented epidemic has also exposed the weaknesses of the international response and pushed MSF to extremes. Since helping to identify the epidemic in March 2014, MSF staff members have played a key role in the response, from health promotion to contact tracing and patient care.
A panel of MSF staff members and recently returned aid workers will discuss current challenges and lessons learned in the Ebola epidemic.

A recording of this webcast, which aired May 14, is now available online at MSF.


Sophie Delaunay is the executive director of MSF-USA. In response to the Ebola outbreak, she directed MSF’s advocacy efforts with the U.S. government, and oversaw the management of U.S. field workers who were departing and returning from Ebola projects. Most recently, she has been leading MSF’s Ebola initiative, which explores what role MSF can have in future Ebola-related research and development projects, while ensuring that any initiative would be driven by patient needs and would respect the ownership rights of West African governments. During the outbreak, she visited Liberia and Senegal.

Ella Watson-Stryker began working for MSF in March 2014 as part of MSF’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. She returned for subsequent missions as an MSF health promotion manager in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and was recently featured in Time magazine with other health care providers and aid workers in West Africa who were collectively named Person of the Year for 2014.

Dr. Gillian Burkhardt is an obstetrician and gynecologist, and recently returned from Sierra Leone, where she worked in an Ebola treatment center that was transitioning into a center that will specifically treat pregnant Ebola patients. Her first assignment for MSF was at the beginning of 2014 in Sierra Leone prior to the Ebola outbreak, and in the same year, she also worked for MSF in the Ivory Coast.
Dr. Craig Spencer worked as a physician in an Ebola treatment center in Guinea in the fall of 2014. 
Following a successful recovery from Ebola, he completed a second assignment with MSF in Guinea this spring, working as an epidemiologist.

Posted by Tim Sandle

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