Ebola Is Not Defeated! Vaccines & Survivor Support Still Needed

In Global Advocacy by Julie

Even though the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is showing early (but inconsistent) signs of slowing, regional insecurity continues to threaten the response, prompting the need for extensive vaccinations, as well as ramped up support for survivors. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges the speedy approval of the effective Merck vaccine, applauds the planned first use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and encourages increased support for Ebola survivors.

The current outbreak has left 2,152 dead from over 3,200 reported Ebola cases as of October 16. Despite a recent lull in new cases and deaths, much is still left to accomplish to ensure the decline continues.

“Given the region where the outbreak is located and how quickly it can spread, there can be no relaxing until it is officially declared over,” saidAHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “We commend the decision to start using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but since it requires two doses eight weeks apart, it’s still essential we get the Merck vaccine quickly approved by the FDA and WHO [US Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization, respectively] and sufficient quantities produced and distributed.”

In addition to bolstered vaccine strategies, much more is required to heal a community from the destruction brought by Ebola. Survivors of the deadly virus often experience significant health issues, including muscle and nerve damage, loss of vision, and joint aches and fatigue. Stigma and discrimination are also unfortunate issues that many Ebola survivors face.

“I saw firsthand the stigma and health issues after speaking with survivors in Sierra Leone following the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” added Ford. “Two years after the outbreak, people were still suffering many difficult side effects. They’re happy to have survived Ebola but still have long term challenges to deal with—there must be support systems in place to give them a chance at a healthy life and help welcome them back into their communities after beating the virus.”

AHF invites you to watch this short clip to see the struggles survivors endure after winning their battles with Ebola. Also watch the full film to see the devastation that can (and will) occur when the global public health community is ill-prepared for a deadly disease outbreak.

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