Evening Ebola Update, Wed, 12/31: Economic loss in West Africa/Lack of health infrastructure/Pregnant women not going to clinics in S.L./All this a bad way to start the New Year   Leave a comment

12/31/14  New Year’s Eve

Dear Colleagues:

l.  The Economist special issue ‘The World in 2015’ has an article on ‘Lessons of a plague’ on page 27.  The author, Geoffrey Carr, is the science editor of The Economist; he takes a political view of the EBOV epidemic in his article.  Yet he correctly identifies the actions to be taken to prevent another EBOV epidemic:

“Building something lasting out of the rubble means you are less likely to have to return. In the case of Africa and disease, that means building better public-health systems and making sure the countries they are in have both the human and the financial wherewithal to keep them running.”

See the entire article at:  http://www.economist.com/news/21631780-ebola-outbreak-should-change-political-attitudes-epidemics-says-Geoffrey

2.  NY Times Africa Section has an article on the economic costs of EBOV in West Africa.  The author, Jeffrey Gettleman, begins the article with interviews of three prostitutes (as if prostitutes are the main product of West Africa), but later in his article notes that West Africa will lose $3.8 Billion in economic return due to the epidemic.  See this article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/31/world/africa/ebola-ravages-economies-in-west-africa.html?_r=0

3.  Reuters reports that the CDC will hire a Chief Safety Officer to prevent future anthrax, bird flu, and EBOV contaminations.  Unfortunately, CDC leaders quoted in the article do not state that the Chief’s main task will be to build a culture of safety at the CDC.  The safety infrastructure is already present at the CDC, but it takes people to care about safety to make the infrastructure work.  The article details the chain of human errors that led to the EBOV lab error; at least three labs were involved in the EBOV breach:

“Ebright laid out an all-too-common chain of events. First, he said, a CDC lab prepares a sample that is supposed to be “inactivated” but is not. Then the lab sends the sample to another facility without verifying that it is sterile. The receiving lab also does not verify that the sample is inactive, so staff at the receiving lab work on the sample without wearing the proper protective gear.”

Read the entire Reuters article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/31/us-health-ebola-usa-cdc-idUSKBN0K908E20141231

4.  CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review 2 January reports on how fear of EBOV has kept pregnant and lactating mothers as well as HCW from pre and post natal clinics in Sierra Leone.  There was a great drop in attendance at these clinics when the EBOV epidemic began in Sierra Leone.  Now patients and HCW are just beginning to return to these clinics because of training in infection control and proper protective equipment for HCW and education of villagers.  (Some villagers thought HCW at the clinics were paid a ‘bounty’ for referring EBOV patients to EBOV treatment centers.)

4.  See the CDC MMWR article at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6351a3.htm?s_cid=mm6351a3_e  The decrease in attendance at pre and post natal clinics now is very disturbing news because Sierra Leone ranked first in the world for maternal death ratio and fourth in the world for neonatal death ratio before the epidemic.

RGL, MD

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Posted January 1, 2015 by levittrg in Ebola

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