Rid A, Emanuel EJ: Why should high-income countries help combat Ebola? Journal of the American Medical Association doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12869 (.pdf)
The outbreak of Ebola inWest Africa is devastating to the affected countries. With no specific treatments or preventive measures available, Ebola has, to date, caused almost 2300 deaths, overwhelmed fragile health care systems and thereby led to inadequate care for other serious diseases, and slowed economic activity.
Yet Ebola most likely will not become a global health threat. Ebola only spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, and containment is readily achievable in high-income countries. This undermines the standard rationale for these countries to address infectious disease outbreaks in other regions—namely, to protect their own populations. For example, fear of global spread has been a key motivation for addressing influenza outbreaks in southeast Asia.
Why, then, should high-income countries help the affected countries combat Ebola and strengthen their health systems and infrastructure in the longer term? Three independent reasons justify action.
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