GlobalHealth Alert Assignment
GlobalHealth Alert Assignment
Theworld experiences numerous health challenges that require theconcerted efforts of the international organizations. The role ofthese organizations is to contain epidemics and reduce theprobability of spreading to other regions. In addition, theorganizations play a critical role in strengthening the affectedcountries by helping them develop effective policies that can enablethem to become proactive, instead of reacting to outbreaks. Thispaper is an educational alert that will provide useful informationabout the Ebola outbreak in three West African countries, includingSierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
Usingthe Host-Agent-Environment Framework of Chronic Diseases to Describethe Public Health Global Issue
Thehost for Ebola is the human beings. The pathogen affects the immunesystem of the host, thus subjecting the infected persons to the riskof suffering from other diseases. The agent of this disease isreferred to as the Ebola virus and it is Filoviridae virus family(CDC, 2016). The disease can affect the host without discriminatingagainst anyone on the basis of age, gender, social class andethnicity. It affects the host by causing a fatal hemorrhagic fever,headache, fatigue, diarrhea, muscle pain, and weakness. The incidentrate was almost the same in the three countries. According to the CDC(2016) the incidence rate of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, andLiberia was more than 100 cases in every 100,000 citizens.
Themortality rate varies from 25 % to 90 %. On average the mortalityrate in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia was about 50 % (WHO, 2016). Between 2014 and 2016, the disease had killed 3,956, 4,810, and2,544 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, respectively (CDC,2014). In terms of morbidity, incidents of new infection have beenreported almost every year since 2013. A total of 3,814, 12,124, and10,678 cases were reported between 2013 and 2016 in Guinea, SierraLeone, and Liberia, respectively (CDC, 2014).
Thereare several environmental factors that increase the risk ofcontracting the agent or the pathogen. The most common risk factorsinclude travelling to the affected nations, engaging in animalresearch, provision of medical as well as personal care for infectedpersons, and participation in the process of preparing the dead forburial (CDC, 2014). These environmental factors can be addressed inorder to avoiding the bush mat, areas with outbreaks, contact withpeople who are infected, and handling of remains. Other measuresinclude the personal protective equipment and frequent washing ofhands.
Therural-urban migration is among the key social factors that havecontributed towards the increase in Ebola prevalence. Urbanizationincreased by 130 %, 248 % and 163 % between 1960 and 2013 in SierraLeone, Guinea, and Liberia, respectively (Alexander, Sandeerson,Marathe, Lewis & Rivers, 2015). Overcrowding in slums increasesthe rate at which the disease spreads.
Thethree countries experienced similar civil unrest between 1989 and2004, which turned many citizens into internally displaced persons.The civil unrest subjected many citizens to abject poverty to anextent that they could not access the health care services. Ebolaaffected the poor households 3.5 times more than the rich ones(Alexander, 2015). The fact that Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberiahad the largest population of poor citizens living in slums explainsthe scenario in which the three countries recorded the highest Ebolaprevalence rates.
Thecivil wars that took more than a decade in the three countriesdiverted the attention of the political class from development ofhealth policies to security matters. During the outbreak of Ebola,the three nations were embarking on the recovery processes, wheretheir priorities were economic development (Alexander, 2015).Therefore, politicians (including legislators) had limited resourcesto allocate to agencies that were fighting the Ebola outbreak.
Unresponsivehealth policies were a common challenge that was reported in thethree nations. According to Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperationand Development (2016) the health policies that existed during theoutbreak limited the capacity of the poor citizens and people livingin the rural areas to formulate their specific health needs.Therefore, the policies could not allow the governments to setpriorities when the outbreak.
Thecivil war also resulted in the destruction of health careinfrastructure in the three countries. An assessment conducted by WHO(2015) in the status of health infrastructure in the three nationsindicated that over 70 % of the citizens live five kilometers awayfrom health care facilities in Sierra Leone, 57 % of theinfrastructure in Guinea was rated to be in the poor state. Inaddition, hospitals in Sierra Leone lacked essential medicine anddiagnostic equipment. In Liberia, the proportion of doctors toclients was 1:30,000, which is an indication of a severe shortage ofthe health care providers (WHO, 2015).
Guineahas a thick forest that provides a biodiversity hotspot for Ebolavirus to flourish. For example, the collared bats live in theforest/grassland mosaic, thus providing a direct channel for aninfection (Alexander etal.,2015). Similarly, the huge forests that existed in Sierra Leone andLiberia have been destroyed by human beings. The forest-agriculturalmosaic creates an environment for Ebola virus to flourish and infectfarmers who have destroyed the forests.
Thebehavior of shaking hands a form of greetings is common in allAfrican countries. This behavior contributed towards the spread ofEbola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
Inaddition, the African culture allows family members to interact withthe dead bodies when performing different rituals before the burialcan take place. This created a scenario in which Ebola infected manypeople from the same families in all affected countries (Alexander etal.,2015). All the factors described in this section were favorable forEbola virus to grow and infect many people within a short period.
HealthImpacts of Ebola on Affected Populations
Survivorsof Ebola suffer from a wide range of health complications. Theoutbreak left about 814 confirmed survivors in Guinea, 4,750 inSierra Leone, and 5,868 in Liberia (CDC, 2014). Some virus remains inthe body of survivors, which subject the relatives to the health riskof being infected when they interact with them. About 10 % of allsurvivors suffer from uveitis, which is a medical condition that canlead to complete blindness (Hills, 2016). Some male survivors carrythe virus in their semen up to a period of one year after recovery,which subject their lovers to the risk of infection. In some cases,Ebola RNA could be detected, even after 18 months of recovery. Thisdata suggests that survivors could turn into long-term carriers ofthe virus, thus acting as potential causes of another outbreak.
Thelong-term effects associated with Ebola affect the internationalhealth directly and indirectly. For example, the fact that thesurvivors of the disease can infect other people more than one yearafter recovery implies that the health of the members of theinternational community is at risk (Hills, 2016). Individuals whohave been declared to have recovered from Ebola might travel andspread the virus in other nations. In addition, the need to financethe management of the effects (such as blindness) among survivorsimplies that fewer resources will be available to fund some healthprograms.
EffortsMade of the Global Organizations
Globalorganizations (including the WHO) have assisted the three nations bydonating funds and mobilizing volunteer health care providers.However, the most significant and long-term contribution involves theprovision information that will facilitate the development of stronghealth policies. For example, World Health Organization studied theweaknesses in the health policies that existed in Sierra Leone,Liberia, and Guinea prior and during the epidemic (Hills, 2016). Thisinformation helped the three nations in enhancing resourceallocation, effective response to outbreaks, and sensitivity to theneeds of the citizens.
Ebolahas become a major public health issue that terrifies people acrossthe globe. The disease is caused by a pathogen that belongs to theFiloviridae virus family. Although the disease can infect all people,irrespective of their social as well as demographic characteristics,the poor citizens and those who live in the rural areas are affecteddisproportionately. These vulnerable populations live in conditionsthat enable the pathogen to flourish and spread. In addition, thethree nations discussed in this paper have climatic and environmentalconditions that are optimum for the growth and development of thevirus. Civil wars and unrest limited the capacity of the countries tocounter the outbreak. Although the three nations were affected themost by the disease, the virus could be transmitted to other parts ofthe world. The health effects of the infection on the survivors willrequire a lot of resources to manage and divert the attention of thestakeholders from other health issues.
Alexander,A., Sandeerson, E., Marathe, M., Lewis, L. & Rivers, M. (2015).What factors might have led to the emergence of Ebola in West Africa?PlosNeglected Tropical Diseases,9 (6), 1-9. Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2014/11/11/factors-might-led-emergence-ebola-west-africa/
CDC(2014). Ebola outbreak in West Africa-Case counts. CDC.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/case-counts.html
Centerfor Disease Control and Prevention (2016).Update: Ebola virus diseaseoutbreak-West Africa, October 2014. CDC.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6343a3.htm
FederalMinistry for Economic Cooperation and Development (2016). How can thehealth systems of Guinea, Sierra Leonne and Liberia be improved?FederalMinistry for Economic Cooperation and Development.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://health.bmz.de/events/News/Guineas_Liberias_and_Sierra_Leones_health_systems/OpenSpaceConferences_GN-LR-SL_2016_e.pdf
Hills,C. (2016, February 25). Ebola survivors struggle with long-termeffects of the virus. PRI.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://www.pri.org/stories/2016-02-25/ebola-survivors-struggle-long-term-effects-virus
WHO(2016). Ebola virus disease. WHO.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
WHO(2015). Health systems situation in Guinea, Liberia, and SierraLeone. WHO.Retrieved October 30, 2016, fromhttp://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/health-systems/health-systems-ppt1.pdf