Following the struggle to contain the world’s worst Ebola epidemic since the disease was first discovered in 1976, the Council of the European Union has issued a recommendations report dealing with the outbreak. It has been declared that besides taking more than 4,500 lives, Ebola is also destroying the progress in democracy, economic growth and social integration made within the last decade in West Africa.
The Council understands that a “united, coordinated and increased effort” is needed to fight the growing epidemic. The report stresses the importance of applying both regional and international partnership of institutions, such as the United Nations, Economic Community of West African States and the World Health Organisation. The Council of the European Union emphasizes the significance of “all actors working together under the UN umbrella”.
The UN Secretary General took a leadership role by laying the foundation for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), portrayed as a key factor in efforts used to contain the killer virus. The European Union’s Member States have already expressed their support for the cause against Ebola through donating over half a billion Euro. The Council acknowledges that the disease epidemic is “a threat to international peace and security” thus it urges the need to “isolate the disease but not to isolate the countries”, as more diplomatic influence is required.
The European Union institutions highlight the importance for the ongoing promotion of public awareness on the epidemic in order to prevent stigmatisation and potential contamination inside of Europe’s borders. The Council of the European Union also accentuates the need to provide a wide range of healthcare experts, volunteering networks and pharmaceutical R&D, used for the treatment of Ebola and strengthening of African governance along with its healthcare systems.
However, around 70% of the people living in West Africa which have been infected by the Ebola virus have died. A testimony taken from Sierra Leona collected by The Guardian gives the outbreak a ‘World War Z’ sense. The person states that: “At work everyone stays at least three feet from each other and we eschew all physical contact barring the accidental touch now and then. I’ve told my son not to touch me or anyone else and sometimes we joke and laugh about it when I stretch my arms out and pretend I’m a zombie and I’m going to touch him. The virus makes me reflect on what social beings we humans are, always congregating, touching each other, milling around. I think this forced lack of touch has its own psychological burden. It’s unnatural.”
But there is hope for us all. Recently, the World Health Organization declared Nigeria as free of the deadly virus, calling the groundbreaking outcome as a “worldclass epidemiological detective work” which is to be set as an example for other countries affected by Ebola. Nigeria fought Ebola through a quick action response and close cooperation with international organisations. This shows that persistence and rigorous enforcement of quarantine are instrumental factors on the road to victory against the killer virus. According to the authors involved in the Eurosurveillance paper, there is not one country completely “immune to the risk of Ebola virus disease in a globally connected world, but (...) rapid case identification and forceful interventions can stop transmission.”
The deadly virus of Ebola has taken thousands of lives – destroying families and communities –spreading at an accelerating rate. The UN and the WHO have to maintain stronger connections with all countries affected by the virus. There is an urgent need for more scientific research to be committed to studying new theories dealing with the prevention of the disease. Pharmaceutical companies cannot carry on with their disinclined agenda to yet another public health disaster (e.g. reluctance to produce cost-effective HIV/AIDS treatment).
Time is everything. What the world needs now is an ethical and adaptive approach to Ebola treatment and prevention, as African resilience built from the brutal years of the Civil Wars is becoming fragile. The social rewards of saving future lives from Ebola are extraordinarily important. After all, it is about saving humanity.