7 lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak

The Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more than 7,500 people thus far, showing the world just how ill-prepared governments, aid groups and health organizations are to handle such an epidemic, according to a Washington Post report.

The lessons learned from the outbreak range from specific and clinical to very broad. Listed below are seven lessons people fighting Ebola have learned, as highlighted by The Washington Post.

1. Local leaders can play a crucial role in fighting Ebola. In numerous cases across West Africa, regional chiefs and other local leaders were able to build trust between villagers and foreign health workers to make intervention possible.

2. Sensitivity to cultures doesn't have to be compromised. Some local customs and rituals surrounding burials can spread the disease, but it is possible to find a middle ground that is both safe and acceptable to local people.

3. Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. Simple fixes like ordering mourning color-appropriate body bags and adding windows to treatment units so loved ones could see each other made locals more likely to seek treatment from aid workers.

4. Response strategies should adapt to the course of the disease. The speediness and agility of Ebola response strategies have proven more effective than just the size of intervention.

5. Global interconnectivity means we all need to be more aware and responsive. What happens in poor, vulnerable countries can have a huge impact on more affluent, stronger countries, so more needs to be done to help countries detect and stop outbreaks.

6. Prevention isn't glamorous but it saves lives. Catching Ebola early and being proactive would have saved money and lives but surveillance and research rarely gets the glory it deserves. Now is the time to realize the importance of funding and supporting prevention research and efforts.

7. A sense of urgency is good, alarmism is not. When communicating about disease outbreaks it is important to inform the public without inciting panic and hysteria that will only serve to hurt intervention efforts.




More articles on Ebola:
CDC lab tech exposed to Ebola showing no signs of disease
Ebola is still spreading, CDC says
Johns Hopkins designs improved Ebola protective gear

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