Remember Ebola? That was the disease centred on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that was supposed to easily overwhelm ill-prepared, disorganised, and corrupt African health services, rage across the continent, and eventually debilitate and harm hundreds of thousands. Indeed, the whole world was under threat.
Instead, there have been 28,000 cases with 11,000 deaths – admittedly many of which could have been avoided with a more prompt response in its initial stages.
So what happened to confound the doom-mongers? Quite simply, once the magnitude of the threat from Ebola Virus Disease was recognised, local governments responded with a rapid and intense offensive. Their actions included judicious restrictions on movement, efficient resource allocation towards high quality treatment and preventing further transmission.
The global diaspora also stepped in with monetary support and over 1000 medical personnel. Now weekly new infections stand in the low double-digits after running at close to a thousand at the turn of the year and although the precautionary stance remains robust, daily patterns of business, schooling, travel and social engagement are returning to normal.
One might have thought that such an achievement in the face of huge financial and social constraints would be headline news. Instead the usual clichéd and thinly-veiled African narratives continue to prevail.
Anyway, in recent weeks there has been further news for mainstream commissioning editors to judiciously ignore. In late July, the World Health Organisation has reported that an initial set of clinical trials in Guinea for an EVD vaccine have, so far, indicated that the treatment is 100 per cent effective and safe for adults. Further trials, which will include children, are taking place with the final results and conclusions expected by the end of the year.
TNT Business Jonathan Thomas