An Outbreak of Outbreaks: Humanitarian Epidemiology in West Africa

by John Pringle

I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to West Africa sooner. The Ebola epidemic was at its peak in the fall of 2014, the same time that I was preparing for my doctoral defence. I watched “Ebola Frontline” which conveyed tragedy and urgency. The documentary followed Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctor Javid Abdelmoneim as he cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.[1] It was graphic and raw, something out of Dafoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. That people had to be turned away from Ebola treatment centres was profoundly inhumane. That traumatized aid workers had to turn people away because treatment centres were overrun, to watch helplessly as people died agonizing deaths in cars or on the ground—was yet another searing reminder of our collective failure, that there is no shared responsibility for global health, and that our notion of ‘international community’ is more dream than reality.

On the Importance of Human Connection: Fear, Ebola and Security

Photo of Larissa Fast

by Larissa Fast

Cross-posted with Political Violence @ a Glance

This week marks the first anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa. A healthcare worker infected with Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone arrived in the US earlier this month. Another ten of this unnamed health worker’s colleagues were also evacuated to the US for monitoring after exposure to the virus.

The muted media reaction to this latest Ebola case is vastly different than last fall, when the outbreak was at its peak and the first case of Ebola arrived on North American shores. Hysteria mounted, tweets mentioning Ebola skyrocketed, and pictures of people in clinics and in western airports wearing various types of protective gear appeared in the media.