AHF calls on the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Dr. Peter Salama, to expedite delivery of Ebola vaccine to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where latest outbreak has claimed 27 lives to date.
KAMPALA, UGANDA (May 24, 2018) Ebola is back and the world is once again threatened with a global public health crisis. If decisive actions are not taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) right now, we run the risk of revisiting the devastation the virus brought to West Africa in 2014. The previous outbreak claimed the lives of over 11,000 people—in recent days, 27 people died of the same strain of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unless the global public health community acts quickly, we might be witnessing the beginning of a new outbreak.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) calls on the Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Dr. Peter Salama, to ensure sufficient quantities of the Ebola vaccines are available and distributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring high-risk countries. Frontline healthcare workers should be inoculated first, followed by the general public, in accordance with the WHO “ring vaccination” protocol.
AHF contributed personnel and supplies during the 2014 outbreak. One of AHF’s clinicians, Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan lost his life fighting to save Ebola patients in his native Sierra Leone, where he was the country’s only virologist. Now that there is an effective vaccine, the world has a moral obligation to do everything in its power to protect public health first responders from Ebola.
WHO in partnership with the DRC government needs to urgently step up the pace of vaccinations and create a cache of vaccines so that they are readily available in large enough quantities to achieve the widest possible inoculation coverage. Sufficient transportation and staff should be made available for the distribution of the vaccine, particularly in to hard-to-reach areas.
AHF applauds Merck pharmaceuticals for donating doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, but the pharma industry can and should do more. The danger of Ebola and other fast-spreading, life-threatening infectious diseases should warrant expedited licensing and sharing of intellectual property between companies. This would ensure development of the most effective vaccine possible, while also allowing for increased mass production capabilities.
The global health community cannot afford to hesitate on Ebola this time around. History has shown that ineffectual leadership during a global public health emergency can have disastrous consequences, which are now entirely avoidable. We call on Dr. Tedros, Dr. Salama and the staff of WHO to take any and all measures to ensure Ebola is contained and eliminated in the DRC and neighboring countries.