The dictates of drug development, a need to invest in community health workers, the role of inequity, and deadly denialism . . . We’re reading about Ebola, and reliving history

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NewWWREbolanomics – Nearly 40 years after Ebola was discovered in a fast-moving Zaire outbreak that took 280 lives, Western Africa has faced the largest outbreak yet since March, as the disease swept into four countries, with no proven and available treatment with which to confront it. “The lack of a treatment,” this New Yorker piece understates, “is disturbing. But given the way drug development is funded, it’s also predictable.” This consideration of why drugs for high cholesterol are plentiful while development of new antibiotics and other medicines critical to public health is challenged, offers a look at solutions, costs, and consequences of continued failure to look ahead.

Fewer clinics, less care – What happens when already depleted health systems are ravaged by an ongoing Ebola outbreak? With private clinics shutting down, public ones overwhelmed, health care workers inadequately equipped to protect themselves, treatment for other illnesses slips out of reach, a Fulbright Fellow at Harvard Medical School working in Sierra Leone says in this Harvard Gazette article. The consequences, others quoted in the article say are likely to continue for years. Trained community health workers are more vital than ever to stem the outbreak, the article offers.

Why the escape of numerous Ebola patients in Liberia’s worst slum is so terrifying – You can’t help but wish the headline had a little less sensation (Escape of Ebola patients! Liberia’s worst slum! so terrifying!) and more information. But the information in the story spells out the conditions that led residents of West Point, an unplanned, overcrowded settlement to reject official explanations of the plague in their midst and carry away patients, along with blood-covered bedding away from the Ebola isolation center, furthering the spread of disease. Describing a place where makeshift shelters became permanent homes, where four pay toilets serve 70,000 residents, this article vividly and painstakingly describes the makings of a “public health horror story,” both before, and after Ebola came there, and paints a picture of a place where suspicion of medical answers can fester along with disease.

Surviving Ebola, but Untouchable Back Home – This article follows a woman and her child, recovered from Ebola, back home, to face, as many others will, fear, suspicion, isolation, and loss.

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  1. Pingback: Ebola outbreak: “Unprecedented” and familiar, global health emergency calls for solidarity, innovation, communication | Science Speaks: HIV & TB News

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