An ebola podcast interview with Steven Cornish, Exec. Dir. of Doctors Without Borders [Médecins Sans Frontières Canada]. A much more extensive interview will be available on board Air Canada. But, you do not have to fly very far to listen to Mr. Cornish as he reacts to recent news about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision for West African sufferers of Ebola to be treated with experimental pharmaceuticals and treatment protocols.
As most people are aware, the Ebola epidemic currently sweeping through West Africa has proven to be the most devastating single outbreak in history. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to help contain the outbreak. However, the organization has warned that it had reached the limits of what its teams can do, and has called for a coordinated international effort to help fight the epidemic.
Mr Cornish weighs in with his thoughts on the most recent decisions to not run any blind trials for treatment. Cornish indicated “they have joined the conversation, and are moving to treat patients without any placebo trials. A consortium including European universities and medical groups plans to give experimental drugs to West African Ebola patients without assigning some to a placebo group, touching off an intense trans-Atlantic quarrel over what is ethical and effective in treating the virus.
Academics and medical groups in the U.K. and France, such as Oxford University, the Welcome Trust, Doctors Without Borders and Institut Pasteur of France, have decided to give the drugs to sick African patients without randomly assigning other patients to a control group not getting the medicines. They say that in a ghastly such as this current epidemic, it is unethical to hold back treatment from anyone.
MORE ABOUT MSF
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 70 countries. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. Some 30,000 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from all over the world provide assistance to people in crisis. They are doctors, nurses, midwives, surgeons, anaesthetists, epidemiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, logistics experts, water and sanitation engineers, administrators and other support staff.
MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols.
MSF teams in West Africa are still seeing critical gaps in all aspects of the response, including medical care, training of health staff, infection control, contact tracing, epidemiological surveillance, alert and referral systems, community education and mobilization. MSF has been responding to the outbreak since March, and currently has a total of 3,340 staff working in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, treating an increasing number of patients. Since the response began, 24 MSF staff have been infected with Ebola, nine of whom have recovered. The vast majority of these infections were found to have occurred in the community.
MSF’s West Africa Ebola response started back in March of 2014, and counts activities in Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone. MSF currently employs 263 international and around 3,077 locally hired staff in the region.
The organization operates six Ebola case management centres (CMCs), providing approximately 600 beds in isolation, and two transit centres. Since the beginning of the outbreak, MSF has sent more than 700 international staff to the region and admitted more than 5,600 patients, among whom around 3,500 were confirmed as having Ebola. More than 1,400 patients have survived.
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