Good news on Ebola?

When I said the other day that Burkina Faso matters partly because it’s smack in the middle of the West African Ebola outbreak, I was remiss in not mentioning that the outbreak actually may be subsiding overall:

Statistics from World Health Organization have shown in the last few weeks a steady decline in the numbers of cases reported, particularly in Liberia. There, less than 100 new cases were reported this week after reaching nearly 500 new cases a week during several weeks in mid-September.

“It’s certainly early to say that this is over. It’s even early to say that this is getting better,” Daniel Epstein, a WHO spokesperson, told TPM. But, he said: “It appears to have stabilized.”

There’s still reason for concern, particularly in Mali, but the pessimistic predictions of several international aid organizations seem to have been missed, although there’s a danger in getting too focused on the reported figures for a disease that often goes unreported. But it does appear that international aid has finally started reaching West Africa, and that it’s successfully (at least in Liberia) being used to build or rebuild the kind of public health infrastructure that is essential to containing the disease.

If this is the beginning of the end for this Ebola outbreak, let’s hope that it doesn’t bring a return of the same “eh, there’s no money in it” attitude that has slowed the effort to find a cure for the disease so far. Also, let’s hope that when the next outbreak occurs, it doesn’t take thousands of deaths for the international community to wake up and take action.

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