A wake-up call – lessons from Ebola for the world’s health systems

A wake-up call – lessons from Ebola for the world’s health systems

Ebola has taken a dreadful toll in the three West African countries hit by the current outbreak – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has led to the deaths of thousands of adults and children, in pain, distress and, because of the infectious nature of the disease, far from the comfort of their families. Every child in these countries has been affected: as well as the many children who have died, many more have been devastated by the death of family members; and all children have been without vital services, such as schooling and basic healthcare.

This report documents the existing weaknesses of the health services in the three main countries affected by Ebola. There is broad agreement that the Ebola crisis was not quickly contained, reversed or mitigated because national health systems in these countries were dangerously under-resourced, under-staffed and poorly equipped. The virus was able to spread, in part, due to the poor state of these health services, which were quickly overwhelmed and lacked the ability to cope with a major disease outbreak. This inability to cope with a major health emergency reflects a similar inability to cope with the daily health needs of their populations over the longer term.

 

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