After more than a year of Ebola transmission in Guinea and more than seven months of transmission in Liberia and Sierra Leone, there is still much to be done to stop the world’s first Ebola epidemic, Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, recently reported. Dr. Frieden returned late last month from his second visit to the three affected nations.
Dr. Frieden spoke with patients and healthcare workers; met with many of CDC’s 170 staff working in each of the countries; and conferred with presidents, health ministers, and Ebola leadership in each country. He describes the situation as both inspiring and sobering. “It is inspiring to see how much better the response has become in the past two months, how much international commitment there is, and, most importantly, how hard people from each of the three countries are working to stop Ebola. But it is sobering that Ebola continues to spread rapidly in Sierra Leone and that in parts of Monrovia [Liberia’s capital city] and Conakry [Guinea’s capital] Ebola is spreading unabated. Improvements in contact tracing are urgently needed.
“In Liberia, the outbreak has slowed dramatically and at the moment the country has the upper hand against the virus, in part due to improvements in access to Ebola Treatment Units and Community Care Centers, safe burials, and community engagement. But the outbreak continues to surge in Sierra Leone, and there has been a troubling spread in Conakry. We’ve got a long way to go, and this is no time to relax our grip on the response.”
Dr. Frieden witnessed the hard work and expertise of the CDC experts who are in the field each day, including running laboratories for Ebola testing, tracking cases and contacts, advising hospitals on infection control practices, training front-line health workers, and developing health messages to encourage changes in the type of behaviors contributing to virus spread.
According to the CDC, the recent approval of $1.2 billion to strengthen international response and preparedness, as well as $571 million for domestic preparedness, is crucial to stopping Ebola and improving the United States’ ability to quickly respond to health threats like Ebola in the future.Learn more about the Ebola outbreak and the response to it at the CDC website