THE international medical-humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has today called for world leaders to commit to developing an efficient emergency response system against epidemics and international health crises, following the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The organisation has welcomed reviews that will improve Australia’s capacity to effectively respond to global epidemics. This comes in the wake of calls for a senate inquiry into Australian Government’s response to the Ebola crisis in west Africa.
“While we welcome a review, our main concern is that globally we are no better placed today than we were at the onset of the Ebola epidemic to respond to such a crisis,” said Médecins Sans Frontières Australia’ Executive Director Paul McPhun.
“If a similar global epidemic were to strike tomorrow, there is still no well-resourced, coordinated international response in place to kick in,” McPhun said. “World leaders, including Australia, must recognise this gaping hole in our global health system and take concrete action to address it, or risk losing thousands of more lives in the next major epidemic.”
This week at the G7 summit in Germany, Médecins Sans Frontières’ warned the global health system still remained unprepared for mass disease epidemics, calling on world leaders to take concrete action to fight epidemics.
The global failures encountered in the response against Ebola – not sounding the alarm on time, ineffective surveillance, slow international response, absence of leadership, lack of treatments and vaccines – are not unique. They are the reality in many emergencies Médecins Sans Frontières teams confront today.
The Ebola outbreak also underlined the real need to urgently fund the development of drugs and diagnostics for neglected diseases and to ensure access to existing medicines for patients in developing countries.
“Australia needs to be part of this global solution,” McPhun added. “It is not a question of whether Governments should have been able to treat patients at the same cost as us. It is about how we learn from our approaches to improve our future response so we make sure we are never faced with this kind of crisis again.”
To read more on Médecins Sans Frontières’ response to Ebola and a breakdown of our costs read our latest report, An Unprecedented Year.