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We need collective responsibility for disease control

Ebola outbreak shows need for collective responsibility for disease control

Commenting on the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in parts of West Africa, Professor John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: "The UK should be well-prepared to deal with the Ebola virus, because we have good health protection systems in place. This outbreak will be a test of how robust those systems are since they were reorganised two years ago.

"Epidemic diseases do not respect country boundaries, which is why we need collective action to tackle the causes of outbreaks to prevent further tragedies. This outbreak is a timely reminder of why healthcare professionals in developing countries need the right resources and infrastructure to put effective health protection systems in place.

"FPH's new Public Health Africa group lead, Dr Aliko Ahmed, is bringing together our expert members who have knowledge and expertise of African public health systems. The group is identifying, harnessing and mobilising the relevant skills and expertise of its members to support public health developments in Africa.

"FPH and Public Health Africa are actively seeking to work with the government, and particularly Public Health England, to explore how our members' skills and expertise can be used to help manage this outbreak.
"This particular epidemic is linked to poverty, and so to prevent further outbreaks, we need government to play its part by continuing to invest in developing the right infrastructure, skills and training - and making this an urgent priority.

"Physicians and others tackled outbreaks of cholera in 19th century cities by developing healthier and safer places for people to live. We need a similar approach now in our work with developing countries, because everyone deserves good public health, regardless of where they live. Real political and public health leadership is weak in the countries affected. Developed countries need to show real commitment to support economic and health development including the physical infrastructure."

Written: 31/07/2014 , last modified: 26/09/2014