Ebola and GAIA VF: What we are doing to focus on the real problem: Access to healthcare in West Africa


At the eighth annual Vaccine Renaissance conference in Providence, Rhode Island on October 13th-16th, many different diseases were discussed, but the press only wanted to talk about Ebola.  It has become very easy for the news media to twist the words of any rational specialist speaking on the topic of the Ebola virus outbreak into the hysteria that has become status quo.

Annie De Groot, founder of GAIA VF and director of iCubed, a vaccine research institute located on the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus, reiterated the importance of treating the outbreak at its source and sending all possible resources to support the West African health care system. 

Many others have pointed out the urgency of sending resources to West Africa with quotes like these:

"The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has exposed major gaps in development aid, prompting a rethink of the balance between building health systems and tackling specific diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis."

And Jim Yong Kim, the head of the World Bank, who pointed out the short-sightedness of stopping flights from affected countries.

"It's like you're in your room and the house is on fire, and your approach is to put wet towels under the door. That might work for a while, but unless you put the fire out, you're still in trouble."

With many important things being said, the news media still refuses to hear anything other than a misconstrued quote from De Groot that "The U.S. is ripe for Ebola outbreak".

Here at GAIA, we have been working for twelve years to increase access to healthcare in West Africa. The Ebola virus outbreak has renewed our sense of urgency, but it is important not to lose sight of the most important goals of training personnel, increasing access to care, and providing resources wherever necessary.

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