Partners In Health co-founders Drs. Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim call for a more coordinated and committed effort to stop the Ebola epidemic. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, they write:
"Historically, in the absence of effective care, common acute infections have been characterized by high mortality rates. What's happening with Ebola in Africa has been no different, even without the targeted vaccines and therapies we need.
A 1967 outbreak in Germany and Yugoslavia of Marburg virus disease—a hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola—had a 23 percent fatality rate. Compare that to an 86 percent rate for cases across sub-Saharan Africa in the years since. The difference is that Germany and Yugoslavia had functioning health systems and the resources to treat patients effectively. The West African countries coping with Ebola today have neither.
With a strong public health response including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the United States, Britain, France and other wealthy nations, the virus would be contained and the fatality rate—which, based on the most conservative estimates, exceeds 50 percent in the present outbreak—would drop dramatically, perhaps to below 20 percent."
For more information, listen to Dr. Paul Farmer discuss the Ebola outbreak with PRI’s The World.