Dr. Paul Farmer: ‘An Ebola Diagnosis Need Not be a Death Sentence’

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Partners In Health Canada is proud to support the live-saving work being done in West Africa, where PIH and our partners are working to get ahead of the Ebola outbreak.

The London Review of Books published an essay by PIH Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer in which he reflects on a recent trip to Liberia and assesses the severity of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Farmer writes:

Weak health systems are also to blame for the high case-fatality rates in the current pandemic, which is caused by the Zaire strain of the virus. The obverse of this fact—and it is a fact—is the welcome news that the spread of the disease can be stopped by linking better infection control (to protect the uninfected) to improved clinical care (to save the afflicted). An Ebola diagnosis need not be a death sentence. Here’s my assertion as an infectious disease specialist: if patients are promptly diagnosed and receive aggressive supportive care—including fluid resuscitation, electrolyte replacement and blood products—the great majority, as many as 90 percent, should survive.

We encourage you to read this important article in full.

PIH’s Ebola response

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a defining global health challenge of our time. The virus has killed thousands of people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and thousands more cases have been confirmed. Tens of thousands of people could be infected as the virus spreads. The outbreak has put an enormous strain on already weak health systems, and international organizations and higher-income countries have been slow to respond.

Partners In Health is leading a coalition to combat this outbreak, working alongside two outstanding grassroots organizations—Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone. These longtime PIH partners are already working to train health workers, identify sick patients, and deliver quality care. As the epidemic advances, these groups need support to provide comprehensive prevention, care, and treatment. “The Ebola crisis is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic health care. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone do not have the staff, stuff, and systems required to halt the outbreak on their own,” wrote PIH Co-founders Drs. Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim in a recent op-ed. “It would be scandalous to let this crisis escalate further when we have the knowledge, tools, and resources to stop it.”

Every person, no matter who they are or where they’re from, deserves the best health care we know how to offer.

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