CNN News source has just published a report based on a write up by a past Director of the United States Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC).
The report highlights an opinion that while the United States and the world is battling the second year of the Covid- 19 pandemic, it didn’t have to be this bad.
Former CDC Director Says Pandemics Are Preventable
Former CDC Director Doctor Tom Frieden and his Organization “Resolve to Save lives”, An initiative of Vital Strategies, has published an online interactive report entitled “Epidemics that didn’t Happen”. The examples listed in the book demonstrate how preparedness in investing and prioritizing in preparedness followed by strict and strategic action was able to restrict several recent outbreaks from escalating into Epidemics.
Tom Frieden recalled his days as Director of the CDC when an outbreak of Ebola had ravaged Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during 2014. He specifically recalled a man infected with Ebola landing in Lagos, Nigeria during that time. Within a few days, the man had died and the infection began to spread rapidly, having the potential to develop into an epidemic in Nigeria. A massive Health response that included straightforward communication, effective contact tracing, and effective infection control helped prevent a full-blown epidemic that was stopped after only 20 cases.
Tom Frieden’s report also mentions how Uganda took action in 2018 to prevent the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from spreading across the border. Uganda activated its national emergency preparedness immediately and prevented further infections. The country also trained its health care staff to detect and treat Ebola, opened multiple Ebola Treatment centers, and set up testing laboratories near the DRC border.
Both these cases illustrate a key component required in preventing epidemics. In both cases, rapid identification was followed by focused action. Specific key corrective action such as disease surveillance and sufficient laboratory capacity. The common unifying element was swift action by health workers backed by full Government support in both these countries.
The report “Epidemics that didn’t happen” states that the story of Covid-19 has largely been one of failure. The report observes that countries such as the United States, The united kingdom, India, and Brazil showed inappropriate action. In these countries, basic precautions such as masking, Social distancing, and financial support to affected populations were either not implemented quickly enough or discontinued too soon. Countries need to have strong public health systems backed by robust governance.
The Asian countries Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hongkong were quick to take immediate corrective action before the pandemic even reached their borders. The results of these countries speak for themselves in their respective health updates.
Brazil, on the other hand, did not use its knowledge and experience from the Yellow Fever outbreak.
The cases illustrated in detail in Tom Frieden’s report have proved that effective epidemic response can save millions of lives and also trillions of Dollars. The case studies are a call to Global leaders to increase investment, improve health systems and strengthen community trust. The report specifies that we can afford health security but we can’t afford another pandemic.
Covid -19 has reinforced the need to work together at global, regional, and local levels to prevent and respond immediately to health emergencies.
Tom Frieden’s Organization “Resolve to Save Lives,” say they have presented cases of epidemics that didn’t happen. But they say that pandemics even more dangerous than Covid-19 could happen again anytime in the future. A failure is an option but success is possible. The Former Director of CDC has called out for working together as a world to make sure we are never again caught so unprepared.