World Still Unprepared After Ebola

EBONEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The global health system is unable to handle another mass epidemic like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, M?decins Sans Fronti?res said, urging wealthy nations to develop coordinated response plans and drugs to fight neglected diseases.

Late and slow international response, the absence of solid leadership as well as the lack of treatments and vaccines are a recurrent scenario in many of today’s health emergencies and are not unique to the Ebola epidemic, the medical charity said.

“If a global pandemic were to strike tomorrow, there is still no well-resourced, coordinated international response in place to kick in,” Joanne Liu, the international president of M?decins Sans Fronti?res (MSF), said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Ebola epidemic was detected in Guinea more than a year ago, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,000 people. While Liberia was recently declared Ebola-free, a spike in new cases in Guinea has stoked concerns the virus could spread again.

To avert the risk of losing thousands more lives to a new health emergency, Liu urged the leaders of an upcoming G7 meeting to take action to close the “gaping hole in our global health system”.

World leaders from Germany, the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy and Japan will meet in Germany next week, and are expected to discuss Ebola and neglected diseases, among other issues, MSF said.

It said too little funding goes into the development of new drugs and vaccines for neglected diseases, or those that have proven resistant to available treatments.

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