Structural Improvements Are Needed to Prepare for Next Ebola Crisis in W. Africa

As the 2014 Ebola outbreak begins to wane in West Africa, experts say the region needs to focus on "immunization, infrastructure and investment" in order to stave off the next public health crisis.

Every year during late December, the media likes to recap the defining news stories of the 12 months prior. Ebola has been at the tip of its collective tongue the past few days as commendations and postmortems are dished out in remembrance of those who suffered from, fought against, and covered the deadly disease. The crisis isn't over yet but there's light visible at the end of the tunnel. Jyoti Thottam, writing over at Al-Jazeera America, stresses that the outbreak's waning stages shouldn't be an excuse to step back from strengthening public health in West Africa:

"If this year was focused on getting the 'staff, stuff and systems,to the hardest hit parts of the region, 2015 will be about immunization, infrastructure and investment. Without them, West Africa could see not only a resurgence of Ebola but also a reversal of the gains in health that have been painstakingly made over the last two decades."

Take Liberia for instance, where there are only 90 doctors living in a nation of 4.3 million people. Without networks of public health officials (and infrastructure such as clinics with refrigeration units), it's near impossible to mount a campaign against disease. The reason Nigeria was so well equipped to stifle its Ebola flareup was because it had resources on hand to handle such a situation.

Take a look at the full piece linked below to learn more about what it will take to control the next Ebola outbreak.

Read more at Al-Jazeera America

Photo credit: Stephan Oppliger / Shutterstock

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