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The 2014 Ebola outbreak demonstrated that deadly diseases do not respect international borders, and that the world is underprepared for the next such incident. In addition, the global spread of infections resistant to almost all known antibiotics underlines that safeguarding human health is a joint endeavor. Several governments have signed up to the Global Health Security Agenda to ensure better cooperation and preparedness. CGD assesses progress and obstacles and suggests how international agencies can ensure the world is ready to fight dangerous and widespread infections when, not if, they next emerge.
More than six months into the worst Ebola outbreak in history, President Obama made the welcome announcement that the US would dramatically step up efforts and lead the global response to combat the deadly disease in West Africa.
The US Government has taken action to respond to the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa: about 100 CDC staffers have been deployed, $100 million spent on medical supplies and training, and an additional $75 million planned for 1,000 beds and 130,000 protective suits.
It’s too early to know how large the economic impact of Ebola will be on West Africa and the world. Past experience, including the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, suggest it could be very large indeed, especially in the African countries that have been hardest hit. Fortunately, actions that the US and other donor countries take now could help not only to control the epidemic but also to minimize the economic fallout.
The US has an untapped opportunity to offer global leadership against drug resistance through the major global health programs it already supports, namely PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and the Presidents Malaria Imitative. In this memo, Victoria Fan and Amanda Glassman highlight considerations for Congress with respect to oversight of these key channels of US development assistance for health that greatly affect drug resistance.