Poor equipment, a severe lack of medical staff and insufficient diagnostics – the health systems in the affected countries were hopelessly overwhelmed by the situation
Photo: J. Boethling

05.01.2016

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Nobody can tell what the outcome of the recent Ebola epidemic would have looked like had national governments and international organisations responded more swiftly and appropriately. The large number of analyses on organisational, institutional and operative weaknesses ought to at least help avoid a second disaster of such magnitude. But can they really?

Two years after the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed its first victim, reports on the deadly disease have subsided. In September 2015, WHO declared Liberia free of Ebola, followed by Sierra Leone in November. It looks as though the three countries most affected by the epidemic – Guinea, Liberia und Sierra Leone – are on the road to recovery. So is there any point in further discussing the topic?

In the opinion of Joanne Liu, President of the organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), there certainly is. For in a BBC interview in October 2015, Liu maintained that some of the factors responsible for the failure of Ebola response still persisted, referring to weak health care systems, communities and their not understanding the disease, and International Health regulations, ... “for which we are still not meeting the minimum requirements.”

But let’s first of all recap on what happened in the Ebola crisis (also see the diagram).

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