Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, criticized the quarantines imposed on travelers coming from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, in New York and New Jersey. From Reuters:
New York, New Jersey and Illinois imposed 21-day mandatory quarantines in the last two days for anyone arriving with a risk of having contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. They are the three West African countries that have borne the brunt of an epidemic that has killed nearly 5,000 people.
But critics worry the policies, going beyond federal regulations and intended to ease public concern over the spread of the disease, will just make matters worse.
“I don’t want to be directly criticizing the decision that was made but we have to be careful that there are unintended consequences,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The best way to stop this epidemic is to help the people in West Africa, we do that by sending people over there, not only from the U.S.A. but from other places,” Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He called such quarantines “a little bit draconian.”
The states’ policies were abruptly imposed after a New York City doctor was diagnosed with the disease on Thursday after coming home from treating patients in Guinea.
A nurse who returned on Friday through New Jersey’s Newark airport after working in Sierra Leone with Ebola patients, strongly criticized the quarantine policy on Saturday, describing hours of questioning and then transfer to a hospital isolation tent. She called her treatment a “frenzy of disorganization.”
Fauci reiterated what the medical officials have been stressing as Americans worry about Ebola: that it is spread only by contact with bodily fluids of people with symptoms.
Spotlight on PSI
PSI and Mercy Corps are partnering to reach 2 million people in the next 6 months. An excerpt from the press release:
Mercy Corps is mounting a community-led public health education campaign in Liberia to raise awareness of prevention practices and change behaviors to reduce transmission of the Ebola virus. In partnership with global health organization PSI and funded by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the campaign will build on Mercy Corps’ extensive community networks in Liberia cultivated over more than a decade.
“The public health messages reaching communities come primarily from untrusted sources and are not catalyzing the necessary behavior change,” says Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive officer of Mercy Corps. “Treatment alone will not halt the epidemic. We must also ensure that Liberians know how to change their habits in order to slow and ultimately prevent the transmission of this deadly virus.”
Mercy Corps is leveraging a network of local and international organizations to identify and empower trusted Liberian community leaders to share accurate and up-to-date public health messages developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The campaign will focus on the prevention of transmission through good hygiene and guidance on local treatment centers.
“We will be mobilizing thousands of Liberians in the hardest impacted areas to promote accurate public health messages that save lives and calm fears,” says Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of PSI. “We are prepared to act with scale and speed.”
Global Health and Development Beat
Quarantined MSF nurse Kaci Hickox says she doesn’t have a fever; a preliminary blood test came back negative for Ebola. She reportedly hired a civil rights attorney to work for her release Sunday.
The general secretary of the Ghana Medical Association says public sector workers will continue their indefinite strike action this week to pressure President John Dramani Mahama’s government to address their concern about their pensions.
With World Bank funding to the government of Sierra Leone, WFP, has airlifted 20 ambulances and 10 mortuary pickup trucks to scale up government logistical capacity in response to the Ebola Virus Disease.
The condition of New York City’s first Ebola patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, worsened over the weekend, though he remained awake and communicative, health officials said to the New York Times.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, arrived in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Sunday to see first hand how the global response is failing to stop the deadly spread of Ebola in West Africa. She will also visit Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone this week.
Mauritania has closed its border with Mali to prevent the spread of Ebola, officials said on Saturday, highlighting fears of further contagion in West Africa after a girl from Guinea died of the disease in Mali this week.
The longer the Ebola outbreak rages in West Africa, the greater chance a traveler infected with the virus touches down in an Asian city.
Africa’s economic growth is bounding ahead, despite the Ebola epidemic gnawing at its western shoulder, but some see the continent showing a deficit in solidarity towards the three poor and war-weakened states worst hit by the deadly disease.
Buzzing in the Blogs
Infectious disease physician Nahid Bhadelia reflects on her work on Ebola in Sierra Leone. She writes for NPR:
The minute we entered the high-risk zone, people were waiting on the landing of the ward entrance to ask what their test results were. Beyond the Annex were the confirmed ward and recovery wards. In the confirmed ward, the healing and the dying mingled. The hallways were filled with people at varying stages of their disease, from those on the road to recovery to those in the throes of their illness, coming to terms with the gravity of their situation. Many of these patients had already seen family members going through this and in some cases die. They were dehydrated, confused, looking at you, looking past you, too weak, bed bound, barely able to use the waste bucket next to their bed. Every day, it felt like you were putting out fires, trying to address the most urgent needs before your own resolve started to fade, your face shield fogged up, your mask was so filled with sweat you couldn’t breathe.
In the ward, the patients whose tests shows they have recovered from Ebola have to be discharged so that we can make room for the new patients who have positive tests. Suspect patients who don’t have the disease have to be quickly discharged so they do not contract the infection while in the ETU. By the time you got out in the afternoon, wondering where the past few hours had gone, you were spent.
On a typical day, I’d do either three two-hour shifts in the suit, or two three-hour shifts. The other six hours of the day I’d deal with case management and collect data to help with clinical care and keep tabs on this epidemic. And recover from the stress of being in the Ebola ward.
After getting out of the PPE, I would hydrate like a marathoner. The idea that I’d put my body through that again, let alone later that afternoon, seemed unreal. But then my mind started to equilibriate with the return of the fluid and the electrolytes and I’d became strong enough to ignore the complaints of my body.
Midday, we’d regroup and have lunch and share information about this patient or that. Some days I felt good coming out after a morning in the ward, as if I had made a difference and put things in order.
Then three hours later I’d go back in and faced chaos. It’s as if fate was laughing at me. New patients had arrived who had not been tested; some were deathly ill. Patients who looked good only a few hours ago had taken a turn for the worst. Some even died in the interim.
The whole process started again: helping one human at a time and providing for immediate needs, while trying to keep my mind focused through the constant, “Doctor, doctor” requests coming from all directions.
12:00 pm – Ebola: US Domestic and Foreign Policy Options – Heritage Foundation
5:00 PM – Abortion, Conscience & Health: A Global Polemic? – O’Neill Institute
9:00 AM – Brazil’s Presidential Elections: Interpreting the Results – Atlantic Council
9:30 AM – Innovations to End Violence Against Women: The Unique Approach to the UN Trust Fund – SID
12:30 PM – Liberia: Challenges to Managing the Ebola Outbreak – GMU
12:00 PM – Challenges for Journalism in Latin America – Freedom House
6:30 PM – What 6 Billion People Think: The Gallup World Poll – Young Professionals in FP
12:00 PM – Education Innovations in Pakistan: A Look at DFID Programs – SID
11:00 AM – Cultural Adaptation and Translation in Autism Research: Global Perspectives – Elliot School
By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy
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Disclaimer: Opinions presented in this email do not necessarily reflect the views of PSI.