May 14, 2015 - 8:00pm
Now over a year into the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) remains active in all three affected countries. On May 9, 2015, Liberia was declared Ebola-free, after reaching 42 days without a new confirmed case of Ebola. But MSF's work in the region is not over, as the outbreak continues in Sierra Leone and Guinea—each new case carrying the potential to reignite the outbreak in Liberia.
Much work remains to be done, and vigilance remains essential. The outbreak ravaged existing health systems throughout the affected region, forcing many medical facilities to close and killing hundreds of health personnel. This undercut the ability of health workers to treat preventable diseases or vaccinate children. The crisis made it very difficult for people to access assistance for non-Ebola illnesses or maternal care. Even if the worst of the outbreak is over, as we hope it is, the consequences of the epidemic will be with us for a long time to come.
On Thursday, May 14th, 8:00PM EDT, a panel of recently returned aid workers explored the reality in the field at this stage of the outbreak. The panel also discussed what lessons MSF has learned about responding to situations like this, and where we go from here.
Sophie Delaunay is the executive director of MSF-USA and recently visited West Africa.
Craig Spencer, MD, worked as a physician in an Ebola treatment center in Guinea in the fall of 2014. After developing symptoms back home in New York, he was himself diagnosed with Ebola. While undergoing intense media scrutiny, he was treated and was declared Ebola-free on November 10. And in March 2015, he went back to Guinea to continue fighting Ebola as an epidemiologist.
Ella Watson-Stryker began working for MSF in March 2014 as part of MSF’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. She returned for subsequent missions as a health promotion manager in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and was recently featured in Time magazine with other health care providers and aid workers in West Africa who were collectively named Person of the Year for 2014.
Gillian Burkhardt, OBGYN, recently returned from Sierra Leone, where she worked in an Ebola treatment center that was transitioning into a treatment center specifically for pregnant Ebola patients. Her first assignment for MSF was at the beginning of 2014 in Sierra Leone prior to the Ebola outbreak.
Tim Shenk, MSF-USA press officer, spent two weeks as the lead field communications officer in Liberia in 2014, and will moderate the discussion.
Read up on MSF's work in West Africa from the beginning of the outbreak until today, on MSF's Ebola Outbreak Flipboard page.