Baba Health Tips
Guinea had every reason to celebrate Tuesday. The country where the West African Ebola epidemic began had been declared free of virus transmission.
That in effect meant that the three countries hardest hit by the disease are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and had broken the chain of infections that took 11,300 lives, jumped borders and spread panic around the world.
The announcement did not mean that the virus had fully surrendered, and indeed Liberia has twice declared the chain broken only to see the virus mysteriously reappear, and must wait until mid-January for an all-clear.
Moreover, there is considerable work still to be done to ensure that the global health apparatus, in particular the World Health Organization, will be far better prepared to attack the next epidemic more quickly and effectively.
For the moment, however, largely ending the transmission of a disease for which there was no vaccine and no efficient treatment when the outbreak was detected in March 2014 was a major accomplishment for the emergency workers and medical teams, many from international organizations like Doctors Without Borders, who risked their lives to battle and finally defeat the Ebola virus.
It also provided a moment to recall the suffering of those who lost their lives to the terrible infection and of the millions of their relatives, neighbors and countrymen who endured fear, deprivation and grief as the virus spread through their cities and towns.
Stopping the Ebola virus, despite the late start and the huge challenge of working in countries with woefully poor health systems, was an example of what the world can do once it acknowledges an emergency and provides the resources needed to save lives.
The entire experience is also a clear warning of the need for significantly better preparations and procedures next time.
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