Chikwe Ihekweazu

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In Wake of Ebola, West Africa Must Seize Opportunity to Build Better Public Health Systems

The Ebola crisis of 2014–16 mobilized unprecedented financial assistance for West Africa to strengthen outbreak surveillance to prevent another crisis. The region has developed an ambitious blueprint over the last two years, but the effort has now reached a tipping point for success. Careful and transparent transition planning, and sensitivity to the unique diversity of the region, will be key to realizing the potential and offering an excellent model for Africa in the future.

The West African region is recognized by the global public health community as being particularly vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks, including those caused by diseases that jump the species barrier from animals.…  Seguir leyendo »

Strange deaths in a community from a disease that people had never heard of; this is immediately followed by a period of uncertainty and anxiety; and then a myriad of strange health workers appear, driving around in white jeeps with long antennas. They wear half jackets and brown boots and nervously wash their hands with incessant routine.

They all seem eager to help but bring bad news about a new disease called "Ebola." The outbreak control efforts include a mixture of persuasion and days of community "lock-downs," enforced by the military. The community is scared; they don't know who to trust.…  Seguir leyendo »

"Every day, we cried" -- these were the words spoken over and over to me by a colleagues as we sat down after another long day for a rare drink in Monrovia, Liberia's bustling capital.

She was reminiscing about the period in September and October when the Ebola outbreak was at its peak. "Of all the pain that we faced, the cremation was the hardest", she explained. I knew exactly what she meant -- cremation was as far away from the norm for burials in West Africa as one can imagine.

As the Ebola outbreak wanes in Liberia, it is easy to imagine the heroes as the myriad of foreign doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and logisticians that have come to support the country in their days of need, and yes, these expatriates have definitely brought to bear much knowledge, expertise and resources on controlling the outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »