With the UK media going into ‘yes/no’ Scottish referendum overdrive – plus a new Royal baby on the way, of course – I’m constantly drawn deeper inside the newspapers towards articles documenting the appalling environmental health of so many on planet Earth. There are sadly so many examples to choose from, but the on-going Ebola epidemic in West Africa terrifyingly reminds us how easily disease can spread amongst populations with weak public health infrastructure and services. We mustn’t forget the millions who die each year from ‘less newsworthy’ preventable diseases like diarrhoea and malaria, but I’m glad that media attention is beginning to explore the complexities of the Ebola outbreak beyond the case of British nurse Will Pooley.
Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), co-discovered the virus and has produced a fascinating podcast on his early work and reflections on the ‘perfect storm’ of the latest outbreak via the LSHTM blog: http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2014/ebola_response.html
Piot and LSHTM colleague Adam Kucharski have also written an excellent editorial on the challenges of containing the West Africa outbreak, many concerning the work of EHPs directly, in the latest edition of the journal Eurosurveillance which can currently be downloaded for free via:
The journal Waterlines remains an excellent resource for EHPs working in developing countries. In response to the recent outbreak Marco Visser’s Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF) guidance on Ebola response in the Republic of Congo in 2005 is currently available for free. The article includes guidance on setting up and managing isolation centres, the principles of which will be familiar to all EHPs, and is available via:
Lastly, the magnitude of the current outbreak is unprecedented and Piot, Kucharski and others are urgently calling for proportionate local, national and international responses. I’m therefore reminded of MSF’s July 2014 report: Where is everyone? Responding to emergencies in the most difficult places (free via: http://www.msf.org.uk/sites/uk/files/msf-whereiseveryone_-def-lr_-_july.pdf). This asks important and uncomfortable questions of all levels of the international humanitarian aid system, including shortfalls in environmental health responses.
I hope these resources are of interest and my thoughts are with the peoples of West Africa and all those working to help them.
With best wishes, Rob.