The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 was declared an epidemic by WHO, and the Ebola response team played a crucial role in curbing the 2014-2016 pandemic. The response from all over the world was massive; medical professionals and researchers came together to resist the epidemic, control it in the affected areas and prevent it from spreading further.
What is known as a ‘multidisciplinary team’ was organised and used for studying and preventing the virus. Multiple steps were taken simultaneously, which were often interrelated; the measures cannot be perceived as exclusive of one another, often working simultaneously. Nevertheless, some of the central actions undertaken were as follows:
Development of isolation facilities
One of the initial steps in prevention of Ebola undertaken by WHO, was to mobilize multiple research facilities. Coordination was organized between the laboratories in Lyon, France and the local laboratories situated in Guinea, Donga, Kenema, Senegal and other regions of West Africa.
They worked to rapidly develop isolation facilities that would prevent contact between the affected patients and the natural population. Soon they were able to organist and present two mobile isolated labs which played a significant role in controlling the epidemic.
This was followed by a venture where a team of physicians with expertise in preventing infections was brought together, and the team was sent to help the local doctors working in Donka Hospital, which was Guinea’s main functioning medical facility.
Later, medical units were also deployed in Liberia, AFRO and other affected areas. Experts were also sent to areas that were unaffected yet potentially under threat, to keep an eye on further developments and to be equipped for immediate response.
Structured and strategic response
The experts and medical professionals were trained beyond their specialized fields of study to make up for the shortage in man force.
While their areas of specialization included infection control, epidemic prevention, laboratory science, logistics and so on, they were further offered training in the fields of medical anthropology, the risks or possibilities of contamination, ways of social mobilization and so on. These enabled them to cope with the multifaceted problem in the absence of sufficient human labour force.
Prevention of free movement of the affected population
Despite all the measures employed to segregate and contain the affected people, the virus continued to spread to previously unaffected areas like Sierra Leone; this brought attention to the fact that the free transport and open communication between the affected and unaffected areas were continuing to host the virus, failing all safety precautions.
This led to an implementation of a “cross-border surveillance” in the “hot zone” which was the point of convergence between these areas, and certain strictures and invigilation were imposed on the free transport.
Training for prevention
WHO launched training programmers because it was imperative to bring about mass coordination. The training programmers deployed at multiple levels not only equipped medical professionals better but also educated the generation public about prevention, management, detection, and contamination.
The world came together, initiated by WHO, to fight and win the war against the Ebola virus.