Rebuilding trust key to fighting Ebola in Africa

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ebola woman
A pregnant woman suspected of contracting Ebola is lifted by stretcher into an ambulance in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sept. 19, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF.
Photo credit: 
UNICEF/Reuters

The Ebola epidemic, which could affect hundreds of thousands of West Africans, can only be contained by rebuilding public trust and local health systems decimated by years of neglect, according to a panel convened by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Medicine. FSI Senior Fellows David RelmanPaul WiseStephen Stedman, Michele Barry and Douglas Owens were among the panelists.

The World Health Organization estimates 2,811 people have died of the virus since the outbreak began earlier this year and that 5,864 people currently are infected in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Senegal and Nigeria.

In this Stanford Medicine news story, Owens, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Health Policy at FSI, cites a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimates that even with "very aggressive" intervention, there would be at least 25,000 cases by late December. If intervention is delayed by just one month, the CDC estimates there would be 3,000 new cases every day; if it's delayed by two months, there will be 10,000 new cases daily. "It gives you a sense of the extraordinary urgency in terms of time," Owens told the audience.

Relman and CISAC biosecurity fellow Megan Palmer have also done a Q&A about the virus.

And you can listen to a KQED Public Radio talk show about Ebola that included Relman.