This post was written by O’Neill Institute Law Fellows Sarah Roache and Daniel Hougendobler
The West African Ebola epidemic is an international public health crisis, and a threat to international security. For so many of us – the public health community, humanitarian and aid organizations, governments, ethicists, policy-makers, and engaged citizens – the epidemic triggers important and complex questions.
Why, for example, is this epidemic spreading at exponential rates, while more than 20 previous outbreaks subsided with relatively few deaths? Why did the international community take so long to ramp up its response, and are we doing enough to contain the epidemic? How can we quickly improve the level of care available to those who are infected? How do we build trust in medical personnel among people who believe that Ebola does not exist? How can we prevent future infectious disease outbreaks from becoming endemic?
We’ve put together a collection of thoughtful, challenging, and at times, confronting resources, which address the West African Ebola epidemic from a range of different angles. We hope these resources can help you get a handle on the epidemic, and perhaps raise public awareness of this complex global health issue.
Overview of the epidemic:
“Q&A: What You Need to Know About the Ebola Outbreak,” New York Times
Using a combination of graphs, charts, and text, this summary from the New York Times answers 12 essential questions about the epidemic. It is an ideal resource for quickly learning the basics.
Ebola situation reports, World Health Organization
The most definitive and up-to-date sources of information are WHO’s frequent “situation reports.” These provide the latest figures, describe new developments, and provide useful visualizations of the epidemic.
Background on how the virus emerged:
“Hell in the Hot Zone,” Jeffrey E. Stern, Vanity Fair
This article provides a gripping account of a reporter’s journey to locate “patient zero” and determine how the outbreak began. See also PBS’s visualization of Ebola’s spread.
General Ebola portal:
University of Minnesota, CIDRAP
The UMN’s Center for Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) has developed an excellent portal, which links to the most important sources of information. Many journals and newspapers have also created their own resource lists, including The Lancet, The New York Times, and Science.
Video on the cultural drivers of Ebola (NOTE: some graphic content)
Liberia’s New Ebola Outbreak
A Vice reporter goes on the ground in Liberia to investigate the cultural drivers of Ebola, in particular the preparation and consumption of “bush meat.” The video provides a unique window into the relationship between culture and disease.
Account of self-sacrifice:
“Those Who Serve Ebola Victims Soldier On,” Adam Nossiter & Ben Solomon, New York Times
Two reporters describe the extraordinary courage of health workers who continue their work after surviving the disease.
Overview of experimental treatments for Ebola:
Potential Ebola Therapies and Vaccines, WHO
Created to aid in WHO deliberations, this document provides an overview of the drug and vaccine pipeline. It is also a roadmap for drug development and addresses the compassionate use of experimental drugs.
Ebola’s impact on health facilities:
Inside Hospital’s Ebola Battle, Ben C. Solomon, NY Times
This video illustrates the extraordinary challenges facing West African health facilities. From a man who lost nearly his entire family to the disease, to corpses carted through patient areas, the video drives home Ebola’s impact on health systems–and patients.
Photojournalism (NOTE: some graphic content)
Daniel Berehulak, an Australian photojournalist based in New Delhi, has produced a haunting visual record of of Ebola’s impact. While his images are often unsettling, they play an important role in conveying Ebola’s human toll to people throughout the world.
Professor Gostin argues for an International Health Systems Fund to prevent the next infectious disease epidemic. The fund would address key systematic failings that have contributed to the spread of Ebola, including fragile health systems and emergency response capabilities.
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The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.