21 November 2014

An uncoordinated Ebola response

A rather damning article from Donald McNeil for the NY Times on the problematic Ebola response in Liberia.
American military helicopters ferrying doctors to remote areas were forbidden to fly back not only patients but even blood samples; recently samples from a village had to be walked to a road four hours away. At Monday’s meeting, according to the minutes, Dr. De Cock called this “unacceptable,” adding, “This has to change this week.”

Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish epidemiologist and consultant to Liberia’s Health Ministry, said that the helicopter order came “from somewhere in America.” In an interview, he cited problems not listed in the minutes: one Asian and two European donor countries are insisting on building new Ebola field hospitals in Monrovia, where hospitals have empty beds, rather than in remote counties where beds are desperately needed; they insisted because they announced those plans two months ago, he said. The national case count was not reported for two days recently because the government employee compiling it went unpaid and stopped working. The minutes of the Incident Management System were made available along with PowerPoint files and other documents by an expert who said the disorganization of the Ebola effort should be made public.
Read the full story here, it is well worth it.