Ebola outbreak and how this epidemic can spread from one country to another.
The Ebola virus outbreak poses significant public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Care Organization (WHO), there were 2,870 cases of Ebola and Marburg between June 1967 and June 2011, affecting 270 or 9% of health workers (World Health Organization 2014, p 7). Ebola virus genus belongs to the Filoviridae family commonly referred to as filovirus. The genus is made up of five distinct species including Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Bundibugyo, Reston, and Zaire. Ebola Sudan, Zaire, and Bundibugyo subtypes are associated with pronounced viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) epidemic. It is characterized by increased person-to-person spread of the disease and a case death rate ranging between 25% and 90% (World Health Organization 2014, p. 7). On the contrary, Reston and Cote d’Ivoire subspecies are not associated with VHF epidemic in human beings until now.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has been common in Sub-Sahara Africa since its discovery in 1976. The initial cases of EVD were discovered in Sudan (1976) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since then EVD outbreaks have occurred in Sudan (1979, 2004), Uganda (2000, 2007), Guinea (2014), Sierra Leone (2014), DRC (1977, 1995, 2007, 2008), Gabon (1994, 1996, 2001, 2002), Republic of the Congo (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005), and Liberia (2014) (World Health Organization 2014, p. 7).Cote d’Ivoire documented one case of Ebola Cote d’Ivoire detected in a laboratory technician who contracted it from an infected chimpanzee when performing an autopsy on the animal. However, no subsequent spread of the disease occurred in Cote d’Ivoire and the technician survived the disease.
In Sub-Sahara Africa, fruit bats belonging to Pteropodidae family are thought to be the natural host of filoviruses group of viruses that cause Ebola and Marburg virus. Epomops, Hypsignathus, and Myonycteris genera of bats are thought to be the potential hosts of Ebola virus. Nevertheless, Ebola virus has also been detected in other species of bats (Auping et al. 2015, p. 8). The geographic spread of Ebola virus most likely corresponds to the distribution of Pteropodidae family of fruit bats. Subsequently, Ebola virus is considered indigenous through the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Africa, cases of human infection from EVD are associated with the handling of infected gorillas, bats of the species Epomops and Hypsignathus, porcupines, chimpanzee, monkeys, and forest antelopes. Infected fruit bats come into indirect or direct contact with other animals and transmit Ebola virus infection, occasionally causing widespread outbreaks in chimpanzees, gorillas and other mammals like antelopes or monkeys. In rare cases, humans the contract EVD through direct contact with infected bats. In most cases, humans contract EVD through handling infected, sick or dead animals that live in the forest. EVD is also spread through secondary human-to-human transmission through direct contact with secretions, organs, blood, or other body fluids of EVD infected persons. Secondary human-to-human transmission poses significant infection risks to healthcare persons or other persons handling dead bodies.
The 2014 EVD epidemic was the deadliest and most complex EVD outbreak in human history. It resulted in the death of 9,162 from 22,859 cases of EVD infections that were ten times more than the 2,232 cases documented in 1976-2012 (Auping et al. 2015, p. 8). The EVD outbreak also lasted for a year whereas previous outbreaks lasted for a very short duration. The outbreak was concentrated in 15 West African countries. It begun as a public health crisis in Guinea and later degenerated into a social, security, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe in 15 West African countries and the entire world. The epidemic was spread to other countries through air travel.
The role of World Health Organization (WHO) in trying to prevent that spread
WHO has spearheaded an international community campaign to develop health approaches and strategies necessary to control and end the Ebola epidemic. The organization is still at the frontline, implementing the majority of the key health interventions to address the Ebola epidemic. To offer a backup to the response operation, WHO now has more than 700 personnel deployed in 63 prefectures, districts and counties all over the three most affected countries in West Africa. This current operation is the largest that WHO has undertaken since its formation (Global Health Watch Staff 2008, p. 16).
Throughout its entire countries of operations, WHO has operated under the administration of the respective National Coordination Centre and has also depended on a close partnership with partners, governments and communities. In the three worst affected nations, WHO is still offering normative, operational, technical and material assistance to the relevant institutions (World Health Organization 2015, p 29). WHO has also worked closely with the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). It has also worked with other UN agency partners, particularly WFP, UNFP, UNICEF, OCHA and UNDP, to ensure an effective and coherent operation across the entire response operations.
Furthermore, WHO has coordinated and partnered closely with partners like the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNAIDS, African Union, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and partners of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to broaden coverage of major surveillance, public and clinical health interventions for Ebola response. WHO is fully committed to reinforcing these collaboration’s that are critical to ending the Ebola outbreak.
What aspects of globalization are relevant to a discussion of World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) is a multilateral global health agency designed to facilitate international collaboration in the distribution of health care and health as a key component of social justice. WHO aspires for accountability and effectiveness in the promotion of health among the global population. The organization is founded on the principle of enjoyment of the most feasible standard of health as fundamental rights of all human beings. The WHO mandate is also based on the understanding that the health of the entire human race is basic to the achievement of security and peace. It is also dependent the on complete collaboration of states and people (Skolnik 2012, p. 21). Furthermore, WHO is founded on the understanding that inequality in development in the promotion of health and disease control in different countries around the world, particularly regarding communicable diseases, is an explicit danger. WHO charter also states that the distribution to the entire global population of the benefits of psychological, medical and associated knowledge is critical to complete attainment of health.
The impacts of globalization are both a liability and an asset to the course of WHO. Globalization refers to the process of integration among companies, people, and governments of different countries that is driven by investment and international trade, and facilitated by information technology (World Health Organization 2014, p. 18). As an asset, acceleration of Global or domestic GDP growth under the impetus of globalization improves the living standards of the global population and hence betters their health wellbeing in line with the WHO governance principle. However, in real sense, globalization results in an inequitable distribution of the global resources in favor of the industrialized nations and to the detriment of developing nations. This inequitable distribution of the global resources goes against the principles of WHO. The economically disfranchised nations are more susceptible to communicable diseases than their rich wealthy counterparts (United Nations Development Group 2015, p. 28).
Globalization issues such as multilateral, regional and bilateral trade treaties are hence of significant relevance to WHO. This is because treaties that promote protectionism and isolationism go against the WHO letter and spirit for equitable distribution of resources that promotes the health and wellbeing of the global population. Likewise, the evils of globalization such as pollution and exploitation of cheap labor in developing countries directly infringe on the fundamental rights of human beings as enshrined in the WHO charter (Hughes & McMichael 2006, p. 27).
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Hughes, L, & McMichael, A 2006, The critical decade: Climate change and health, Climate Commission Secretariat (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency), Canberra.
Skolnik, R 2012, Global health 101 (2nd ed.), Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA.
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