The Lessons From the Ebola Crisis

As concerns mount regarding the spread of Ebola it is imperative to look closely at the factors that have led to this mounting crisis.  The systems that our nation  had established to ensure the rapid identification and isolation of disease outbreaks have clearly failed.  These failures are largely the result of inadequate funding, poor planning and absence of prioritization of governmental systems tasked with protecting the public.


These failures have been compounded by the failure of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure that local agencies are adequately trained, appropriately monitored and provided with appropriate protective equipment to ensure the safety of caregivers.  This is most evident by the nurses who have now become infected because they did not have access to necessary protective equipment.


These brave nurses who placed caring for others before their own safety are now paying the price for short sighted policies of their employers and governmental agencies.  It is a great disservice to these health care providers that both the hospital in Dallas, and the CDC, attempted to lay the blame for becoming infected on the nurses instead of acknowledging that these nurses were not adequately protected.


Ultimately the blame for this crisis falls largely on the American public.  We have allowed anti-government rhetoric to propel dramatic reductions in the budgets of agencies necessary to secure our health safety.  We would never tolerate dramatic cuts to our military forces, but silently allowed drastic cuts to the funding of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and our state public health departments.  These cuts have made us vulnerable to disease threats that could threaten millions of lives.


For the safety of the public we need to force our legislators to prioritize our public health systems and strengthen their capacity to meet such disease threats.  For the safety of the public and healthcare providers it should be mandated that hospitals and healthcare facilities plan and prepare for such worst-case scenarios.  Our current national crisis is ample evidence of the consequences of continued failure to address these issues.