The expanding Ebola crisis represents a public health emergency of truly global proportions. The impact now extends well beyond the heartbreaking number of people in West Africa infected and killed as the virus spreads across borders and shatters already fragile health systems and economies.
To date, PATH has played a limited supporting role to the global and regional organizations that are on the front lines of the response to the outbreak. PATH does not currently have a program focused on Ebola or hemorrhagic fevers, nor do we have teams, programs, or offices in the three countries at the center of the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
As the crisis deepens and the virus threatens other countries in the region, PATH has been asked by the World Health Organization (WHO), ministries of health, and other partners to take on an expanded role in supporting the international response to the outbreak. PATH is responding by bringing our technical, scientific, and logistics expertise to bear in the following ways:
- At the request of the Senegalese Ministry of Health and other partners, PATH staff in our Senegal office are providing technical, managerial, and logistical support in Senegal, where a single imported case of Ebola has been confirmed. PATH serves on the national committee supporting Senegal’s planning and response efforts and is contributing technical and managerial support to establish Senegal’s emergency operations center and systems for identifying and tracking patients and overall response efforts.
- We have responded to WHO’s request for our vaccine expertise by temporarily loaning PATH staff to support WHO’s response efforts and by providing technical assistance for clinical trials of new Ebola vaccines now being tested.
- PATH is known for our expertise in developing diagnostics for low-resource settings. We have been asked to work on several proposed projects to help develop more effective diagnostic tools to detect and track Ebola.
- PATH experts have been asked to serve on advisory panels, engage in ethical review discussions, and contribute their expertise and insights, particularly on the safe disposal of medical waste and the evaluation of new vaccines.
- We are providing logistics support for the procurement of protective health equipment and supplies as part of outbreak response efforts in Liberia.
PATH has worked in West Africa for more than a decade, and we remain committed to our ongoing programs in the region. We know that other health issues–including malaria, influenza, HIV/AIDS, and lack of access to essential maternal, child, and reproductive health services–continue to threaten women and children in West Africa and are likely to claim even more lives as health systems struggle under the weight of Ebola. Accelerating innovation to save lives and improve health, especially among women and children, continues to be at the core of our work in the region and around the globe.
PATH will continue to engage with our partners as the crisis unfolds and will evaluate additional ways we can contribute to the global fight against Ebola.
Our thoughts are with the individuals, families, and communities who have lost loved ones and with the many dedicated and selfless health workers striving to turn the tide against this terrible disease.
PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children. Accelerating innovation across five platforms–vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations–PATH harnesses its entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, PATH takes innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. With these key partners, PATH delivers measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at www.path.org.
Posted October 3, 2014. Updated October 4, 2014.