The International Response to the West African Outbreak - Ebola

Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever that can be acquired by humans from wild animals and is disseminated across the population by direct contact with infected individuals. The disease's signs and symptoms include a sore throat, muscle discomfort, vomiting, fever, followed by rash, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as diminished kidney and liver function, which causes both internal and external bleeding. An Ebola outbreak is known to result in the death of 20% to 90% of the infected population, which means that a higher proportion than usual of the entire population carrying the virus dies. This disease was first identified in two outbreaks, that is, in Yambuku and Nzara in the year 1976 and others in sub-Saharan regions of Africa.15 The World Health Organization reported about twenty-four epidemics between 1976 and 2013 with total cases of 1,717. 11West Africa was the most significant epidemic of Ebola ever published from December 2013 to January 2016 causing 11,310 deaths out of 28,616 cases of the disease identified.More recently, another outbreak was reported in DR. Congo in May 2017 and this prompted the African region to call for global aid. The response by the International community and authorities to West Africa’s reported outbreak has been inadequate and slow. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were the countries most affected by the pandemic and they accused the International community of disregarding the outbreak and delaying before mobilizing aid to contain the situation.

Factors contributing to Ebola virus spread of in West Africa include the geographical location of the region, and economic, social and political constraints of these governments, playing another role in the way the virus was transmitted across the population. It was postulated that the delayed assistance and response by the International community to the Ebola disease resulted in the West Africa’s epidemic. However, it is apparent that some organizations are committed to contain the spread of the virus since March 2015, when the outbreak was reported. The first case of Ebola was reported by the World Health Organization in 2014 in Guinea and doctors deployed from across the organization and from the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to respond and provide support to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea13. The Doctors without Borders had contained a similar situation in Africa, and the same case in March 2014, the launched a response of emergency in Southern Guinea to set up a unit of isolation and sent a team of aid workers and doctors to contain the spread of the disease on the ground. These doctors confirmed to treat more than 250 cases of Ebola.

World Health Organization and medical practitioners responded by sending teams to on the ground to provide treatment and aids, the conditions that the outbreak occur is much different compared to the previous cases of Ebola outbreak 12.Further, the people in West Africa had limited knowledge about the disease, since it was the first the first time Ebola has hit the continent of Africa in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. On the other hand, the high rate of mobility causes the spread of the virus even faster than the previous outbreak. These countries are not stable economically, since in the recent years they have been in conflict and civil war10. The disease attacks when the countries are on the verge of restoration, under this condition, their health systems are severely destroyed and prompt response to such cases becomes difficult. The instances of Ebola spread geographically in such a manner that it is difficult to tame the method in which the virus spreads13.

The African collective assistance to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa lacked coordination, since they were short of the facilities required to manage this severe disease and their economies were unstable6. However, there are aid organizations, like GOARN and WHO that deserves to be blamed for their inability to control the situation in West Africa for a long time; they act slowly in mobilizing other states to provide physical assistance and financial support. Some countries like the United States have better facilities regarding medical equipment which are essential in handling this kind of virus, as well as excellent medical staff compared to West African countries4. These aid organizations have also failed to share crucial information with the affected countries to enhance their emergence mechanisms and disaster control systems, and this has worsened the situation in West Africa. The World Health Organization was prompted to call for help from the International community for fear that this disease could spread to other International countries considering its severity. Although the International community was slow in response to Ebola outbreak, United Nations announced that it would set the United Mission Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

The Secretary General of the United Nations was vigilant to formulate two letters in the UN Security Council and the General Assembly with the message that the outbreak of Ebola is no longer a regional crisis, but an International turmoil which has the impact on aspects of lives ranging from social, security, economic and also political issues7. The construction of UNMEER was to mobilize aid at the regional, national and at the International levels to ensure that resources and help were deployed and delivered in the shortest time possible and where it was most required. This call for aid attracted countries like Columbia, India and Estonia to give USD 100,000, USD 10 million and USD 40, 000 respectively. Ghana became the regional hub for logistics for the response of Ebola when she hosted the effort of UNMEER in Accra5. In addition, Cuba sent out nurses, and 165 doctors to Sierra Leone and the United States promised five hundred health personnel and three thousand engineers of the military to build care centers and clinics for patients in West Africa. Aside from this, 115 health workers were sent to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea by China and launched a team with the mobile laboratory to strengthen the capacity in lab testing for Ebola in Sierra Leone3. This kind of mobilization was necessary to contain the situation in West Africa, although it was received late. Chances for the spread of Ebola could be minimal if this type of mobilization was done in advance.

In1996, the International Health Regulations (IHR) was revised to widen the coverage of the disease and bring on board the use of the advanced method of communication technologies to manage the information more quickly about the International Ebola outbreak and possibly inform the relevant groups on time7. This coverage was another measure that the International community had put in place to contain an outbreak of the disease in West Africa and other parts of the world10. The move explained why there was robust International sharing and coordination because the information about the outbreak was accurate and strategizing with such information brought success. In Asia, the WHO was very active in this case by collecting relevant information about the nature of the disease. They explored its pattern of the outbreak and monitoring its spread, and therefore had sufficient knowledge and time to get epidemiological and clinical information, spreading the news to the world about the outbreak of atypical pneumonia that was newly identified3. GOARN was able to organize world’s best epidemiologists, clinicians, and laboratory scientists electronically during the epidemic in an effort of containment of the disease. This was done in networks virtually and rapid knowledge provided about the agent of the cause, epidemiological features and the transmission method of the virus4. The information provided was on time, and this made it possible for the health workers on protective measures and clinical management to get the specific guidance of information and to formulate means of containing the outbreak was smooth and successful.

In 2003, there immense technology advancement but GOARN and WHO failed to feed the International community with the information about Ebola outbreak and the spread became severe6. Their failure to follow the SARS epidemic model led to the spread of the virus and to contain it was difficult. 8Dr. Piot Peter, one of the microbiologists who were part of the team that identified the case of Ebola in Zaire in 1976, had the opinion that WHO is experiencing a challenge of leadership on the eve of the outbreak13.To manage the situation on the ground was impossible because the Regional African offices lacked qualified personnel but were occupied by political appointees had no knowledge about the virus.9 Again, the budget cut imposed on the headquarters at Geneva, affected negatively the hemorrhagic fever department as well as those who tasked with the epidemics management role in the region. Contrary to SARS, Ebola existed since the year 1976, and several outbreaks have happened since then, in the last four decades. The reported cases of death during these sporadic outbreaks ranged between 50%and 70%1. With the knowledge of the deadly situation created by Ebola, the relevant organizations did not take early initiatives to develop the cure to contain the disease in case of a future outbreak. This show the International community can contain Ebola, but failures of delay in response have caused the situation to worsen in West Africa.

A similar case of the response to the spread of the virus by the International community is that of Nigeria. There was a quick response from the local leadership to the collaboration of the organizations at the National and International levels that slowly contained the spread of the virus since when it was reported in July 20146. Nigeria is a highly populated with the movement of the global community drawn from business people and tourists, and this threatened the plight of many lives. For not containing the situation urgently, the economy of the country could be under threat. Temperature screening was done strictly at all entry, and exit points and surveillance was conducted extensively and regularly by the public health workers. The governor of Lagos took immediate action when the first case was reported, and he deserved credit. Contacts were traced, and the fever checked on them to ensure that none had contracted the virus15. The samples of their blood were also taken for testing in the National Laboratory for further screening4. This raises questions how delays were experienced in response to the case in West Africa by the International organizations. The signal of information was created through boots to ensure awareness about the spread of the virus and to eliminate any fear or panic among the people. The collaboration of the regional organizations and the International Organization was successful. They coordinated to monitor all aspect of the crisis by providing more aid. This spoke loudly that the lack of cooperation of the local organizations in West Africa led to disorderliness in fighting Ebola. 8In Nigeria, WHO and the United Nations acted slowly in mobilizing the International Community, while sharing the information critically, but on the ground, the leadership of Nigeria was active in doing the local initiative to ensure the aid provided by the International Community is utilized efficiently. Without their effort to collaborate the epidemic could not have been contained.5

The report of Ebola in West Africa led the Ministry of External Affairs of India to make no official statements on the explosion but only secured a postponement of the Summit that was scheduled for attendance in December 2014 for fear that Ebola could be imported in India9 . However, they pledged support financially to contain the outbreak by donating USD 12 million towards the UNMEER kitty for help fight Ebola in the affected countries of West Africa, and this was remarkable. However, the government of India made programs to screen people who were going in and out of the West African countries at the airports for precaution9. The West African situation could have been worse if prior preparedness was not constituted considering their vulnerability socially, politically and economically. Most of their public hospitals lack proper equipment or necessary facilities with most of the rural areas having no access to public hospitals10. While responding to Ebola transmission in West Africa, India is spent a tremendous amount of money in acquiring facilities and qualified workforce to ensure that enough public hospitals are constructed and the existing ones are renovated4. These projects were being done in enhancing capacities and capability of India to handle the crisis like the one experienced in West Africa.

At the moment, there are only two laboratories in India which can test samples of blood and diagnosing diseases like Ebola. They are located in the National Institute of Virology in Pune and the National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi2. Two laboratories for more than one million populations are insufficient. There are also no proper mechanisms for creating awareness in India because rarely have they mentioned the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa in their papers or news networks, a similar predicament that is faced by the West African countries12. These countries lack updates on the measures the government has put in place to contain the possible crisis of infectious diseases in the country. The illiteracy levels and lack of access to media information have caused the people to also not know the existence of the disease8. The lack of awareness and knowledge could be the reason for panic and fear among such communities if there is a crisis of Ebola in the region. Despite the fact that intensification by the International aid has been made to contain Ebola outbreak, the Indian authorities and leadership need to be vigilant at the local level using the available resources.

The crisis of Ebola in West Africa has caused the International community to launch programs and strategies for tackling future epidemics in vulnerable regions. The United States of America established a multifaceted agency called CDC to respond to Ebola problem in West Africa4. CDC involves the regional activities, and training people domestically to respond to outbreaks, making plans for care of patients returned from the US and preparation for the control of Ebola outbreak in the introduction of the virus. Since its establishment, the agency has recruited more than a thousand members of staff to operate in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to monitor essential activities and reduce the transmission of Ebola1. The activities conducted by the CDC agency includes tracing contacts, laboratory testing, surveillance, management of incidents, development of emergency operation centers, management of data, education on health and safe isolation3. The members of CDC staff were also deployed in borders of countries not affected by Ebola to do preparedness assessment. The CDC has done most of its programs jointly with the Disaster Assistant response Team (DART) drawn from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Foreign Disaster Assistance Office which oversees the West Africa epidemic US response. When the peak of the epidemic was reached in early 2014, the CDC made strategies to relieve the treatment beds shortage, together with developing care centers for the community. CDC agency has also conducted the assessment of at least 230 facilities and provision of assistance in the laboratories for testing of the virus the affected areas of West Africa13.

In addition to the response of crisis in West Africa, the CDC agency launched training in both the Africa and the US3. The trainees included the volunteers, support personnel and care workers to enhance preparedness in responding to crisis like that of Ebola. Preparations were also made in care hospitals by establishing specific facilities for testing and treating Ebola. Other programs include developing protocols for isolation of Ebola patients and movement plan to reduce further spread of the disease. The relevant governments in conjunction with hospitals are also advised to address Ebola in special populations and the public labor by forming a team of experts to conduct surveillance4. The government needs to ensure that workers make use of proper Personal Protective Equipment, especially in health sectors, appropriate arrangements for waste disposal that is safe and internal and public awareness9.

In conclusion, Ebola is a deadly virus and an enemy not only to West African countries but any region of this world. Efforts have been made by world organizations to contain the outbreaks of Ebola, but according to what has been witnessed in West Africa, it poses a challenge for more to be done by both regional and International communities. The lessons learned from the West Africa case calls for African countries to put in place measures and strengthen local response in preparation for another outbreak. West African States can learn from the example of Nigeria’s response to Ebola outbreak. The community also needs to provide support and make use of available resources in the most efficient way to win this war. 


Barry S. Hewlett,Bonnie L. Hewlett.Ebola, Culture and Politics: The Anthropology of an

Emerging Disease. 2007, 19-111

Beatty, Alexandra S., Kimberly Scott, and Peggy Tsai. Achieving Sustainable Global

Capacity for Surveillance and Response to Emerging Diseases of Zoonotic Origin: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008.

Charles River Editors.Ebola: The History of the Disease and Its Outbreaks. 2014

Top of Form

Ealy, George, and Carolyn Dehlinger. Ebola: An Emerging Infectious Disease Case

Study. 2016, 52-60

Guenther, Rita S., and Micah Lowenthal.Indo-U.S. Workshop on Challenges of Emerging

Infections and Global Health Safety: Summary of a Workshop. 2016, 33-63

John G. Geer, Wendy J. Schiller, Jeffrey A. Segal, Richard Herrera, Dana K. Glencross.

2015. Gateways to Democracy: The Essentials.Cengage Learning, 2015, 482-487

Kuriansky, Judith. The Psychosocial Aspects of a Deadly Epidemic: What Ebola Has

Taught Us About Holistic Healing. 2016

Laine, Carolee. Ebola Outbreak (Hosted/: Interactive eBook). New York: ABDO Digital,

n.d., 2016, 28-66

Pandey, Abhishek, Katherine E. Atkins, Jan Medlock, Natasha Wenzel, Jeffrey P. Townsend, James E. Childs, Tolbert G. Nyenswah, Martial L. Ndeffo-Mbah, and Alison P. Galvani. "Strategies for containing Ebola in west Africa." Science 346, no. 6212 (2014): 991-995.

Team, WHO Ebola Response. "Ebola virus disease in West Africa—the first 9 months of the epidemic and forward projections." The New England journal of medicine 371, no. 16 (2014): 1481.

Trad, Mohamad-Ali, Dale Andrew Fisher, and Paul Anantharajah Tambyah. "Ebola in west Africa." The Lancet infectious diseases 14, no. 11 (2014): 1045.

Samb, Saliou, and Adam Bailes. "Ebola stalks West Africa." Australia's Paydirt 1, no. 219 (2014): 116.

Saxena, K. (). [online] Available at:

ebola-crisis_ksaxena_0914. 2017, [Accessed 14 Nov. 2017]Bottom of Form

Soumahoro, S. Ethnic Politics and Ebola Response in West Africa. SSRN Electronic

Journal. 2017

Top of Form

Top of Form

Top of Form

Top of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price