Governments need to prepare for infectious disease outbreaks

the Clinical Advisor take:

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war,”  Bill Gates told a crowd at a TED Talk in Vancouver.

To illustrate the lack of preparedness countries have to address a potential disease outbreak, Gates and associates built an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) simulation.

Audience members were asked to put on all of the safety gear required of a health-care provider working in West Africa — and then take it off without getting contaminated. Clinicians who had worked in West Africa during the epidemic were there to help audience members understand the process.

The attendees were required to give out placebo pills, dress a cot with sheets, and set up an IV — all while donning big rubber boots, a plastic suit, mask, hood, and second set of gloves and other protective equipment.

Nina Gregory, of NPR, was at the TED Talk and shared her experience:

“When I caught sight of my own reflection — and saw those lumbering around in the mock ETU suited up like this along with me — it was unnerving,” Gregory wrote.

“Imagine being on the other side: sick, dying of Ebola, and this giant, anonymous figure with not one fragment of skin or hair showing, is there to treat you, to try to save your life.”

"We wanted to give people the sensory and visual limitations we had in working in West Africa,” Luanne Freer, an emergency medicine doctor from Montana told NPR. “Once you put the suit on, you only have 90 minutes with your patients in ‘the hot zone’ because people wearing the protective suits are at risk of fainting.”

“My team had to care for 15 people," said Freer. "If our bodies would only let us stay in the hot zone for 90 minutes, some of our patients couldn't get care. We were faced with a Sophie's Choice: Do I leave or do I feed that baby? And we should never have to make that choice."

Half of states in the U.S. unprepared to prevent a public health emergency
Governments need to prepare for infectious disease outbreaks

At his TED Talk in Vancouver last week, Bill Gates posed the idea that, "If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes."

He noted how the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which has taken about 10,000 lives, revealed serious problems in our global health care system. It's not that the systems didn't work well enough, he said. "We didn't have a system at all." He called the response "a global failure."

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