Immunization Action Coalition: Ebola | View from the frontline

I apologize for the lack of regular posts here, but so far I’ve had to leave a lot of time for work.

We’re currently in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. If anything, this should’ve been the most active time of this year for the Immunisation Action Coalition. If Ebola had taken to infecting local residents and then threatening our northern neighbors, it’s probably fair to say the WVP would have been taking a lot more time to interact with our friends and family back east.

It feels so wrong to spend so much time on a story in which the death toll continues to rise. But, essentially, the crisis isn’t like a polio epidemic in Africa, where a mass vaccination campaign can shorten the reach of the virus and create a buffer zone protecting a larger population. Ebola is spreading through urban neighborhoods, and the disease still seems to be evolving. There’s no massive presence of experts that can offer guidance – it’s all part of the problem.

But all that is difficult to convey through a litany of research articles, a time-consuming weekly briefing on disease alerts and weekly reporting on disease outbreaks. People from Ebola-affected areas need to be vaccinated. Because once Ebola goes away, we’ll all be waiting for the next flu pandemic to bring us back to this situation. It’s those who work directly with the virus that can do the most to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

On a day-to-day basis, Rosie maintains all the necessary resources to improve program development in the WVP’s global work on efforts to fight neglected tropical diseases. We’ve developed the Liberia Region-Midwest Project, which allows the WVP to help tackle neglected tropical diseases and fight regional development through village-by-village interventions that are modeled after Liberia’s government.

But on a day-to-day basis, my work is on reducing the WVP’s time devoted to Ebola. It’s a lot of work. It involves a lot of travel, and a lot of people who are fighting an epidemic that, frankly, isn’t dying off. In a country already riddled with corruption, a situation in which the government doesn’t control the local populace is going to make prevention a bit more difficult.

When a virus is so lethal that, as of today, 536 are dead from it in four different countries, we shouldn’t be spending hours per week on talk show debates about whether George Soros is to blame. When a problem is this widespread, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, mayor or president, Christian or Muslim. We all need to be united on the fight against the virus.

From a CDC perspective, we are trying to make sure our partners understand how our experts have coordinated their work over the last few days. And also that they understand our plans moving forward. A study conducted by the Association of State and Territorial Epidemiologists is getting feedback on the CDC’s plans and process. I think the WVP and other U.S. NGOs also need to sharpen our plans moving forward. The disease’s changing. It’s getting worse. And now it looks like Ebola is going to take to infecting people from West Africa to the United States.

I hope to do more to get an overview of the program’s challenges in the future.

We know it’s going to be a long haul, but we still have time to get this right. I think that’s where we’re all at right now. There’s a lot of explaining to do, and a lot of information we’ve yet to share. On the one hand, we’re seeing a double extinction and the death toll is mounting daily. On the other hand, we’re also at a unique moment in the virus’s history, with so much at stake. Time is running out, but there’s still a lot of time left to take this deadly disease off the board. There just isn’t enough.

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