In DepthINTERVIEW

Ebola: ‘Wow, that is really tough’

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Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1229-1230
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6202.1229

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Summary

The news out of West Africa is grim. By early this week, Ebola cases had topped 4000 and deaths exceeded 2000, and the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that thousands more should be expected in Liberia alone in the next few weeks. In an interview with Science on 4 September, WHO's Bruce Aylward, an assistant director-general who is running operations as part of WHO's new $600 million Ebola emergency plan, talked about why the international community has been slow to respond to the unprecedented epidemic and described the huge gap between the number of cases and the capacity in countries to deal with them. Governments are now keen to help, he says, but are having trouble mobilizing. Relief organizations are used to dealing with wars and natural disasters, not dangerous pathogens, and few have any experience in running the many treatment centers that are required. WHO's just-released plan calls for stopping the outbreak in 6 to 9 months. That goal is still possible, Aylward says, but only if the international community takes immediate action.