Ebola: Impact and Lessons for West Africa
The Mano river basin has now become the epicentre of West Africa’s Ebola pandemic. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the countries worst hit by the virus that has claimed the lives of more than 5000 people. Other countries with Ebola cases are Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, United States and Spain but they managed to contain the spread. So far the response to the pandemic has been relatively good but could have been earlier. The crisis exposed the weaknesses in the health systems of the three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; and has shown the flaws in post-conflict peacebuilding in relation to setting the wrong priorities. A plethora of debates have been evoked with the outbreak of the virus. There are those who hold that the virus was manufactured as a biological weapon but others trace its origins to ‘fruit bats’, ‘monkeys’ and other animals. Earlier versions appeared in Marburg, Germany in the 1960s; then in Zaire in 1976 and subsequently, others occurred intermittently in Zaire, Sudan and Uganda. This policy brief does not trace the origins of this virus. Rather it focuses on three basic issues: impact of the virus; lessons learned and recommendations.