Blog Posts by Ashley Arabasadi

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

This story was originally published by STAT News.

As the Democratic Republic of Congo works to contain the latest outbreak of Ebola, in what could be a test of the world’s ability to contain the disease since the calamitous outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and 2015, it’s a good time to think about the global infectious disease pandemic that happened in May.

In case you didn’t hear about it, that pandemic killed 150 million people around the world, including 15 million Americans, within a year and caused the U.S. stock market to crash. Fortunately, the deaths and economic cataclysm were just on paper — or in electrons — the result of a daylong simulation with a group of high-ranking U.S. government officials that was organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The simulation revealed just how dangerously unprepared the U.S. and the rest of the world are for a pandemic and provided experiential learning for decision-makers in the Trump administration.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

This story was originally published by The Hill.

No sooner had one outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) been declared over than another broke out. The latest outbreak is particularly threatening as it is in North Kivu province, an area beset with violence between rival militia groups. On top of struggling with violent conflict that has lasted, in some areas, for more than 20 years, the DRC is one of the world’s poorest countries and lacks a well-developed infrastructure.

Infectious disease outbreaks are more dangerous in countries like the DRC because fragile or severely off-track countries have little health care infrastructure to support the necessary steps to contain the outbreak. Although the DRC has had many Ebola outbreaks and more experience containing the disease than any other country, the conflict environment exacerbates the threat.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Loyce Pace of the Global Health Council moderates an expert panel at the WHA71 side event in Geneva, May 22, 2018. Panelists included Dr. Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Minister of Health; Catharina Boehme, CEO of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics; and Rüdiger Krech, Director of Health Systems and Innovation at WHO.Photo credit: MSH

Is the world safer today from the threat of infectious diseases than it was a generation ago?

It is true that we have more tools at our disposal: better surveillance and diagnostic systems, stronger frameworks and regulations, such as the Global Health Security Agenda and Joint External Evaluations (JEE), and a deeper understanding of how diseases spread and what is needed to stop them. It is also true that climate change, deforestation, population growth, and our proximity to farm and wild animals are making the threat of epidemics greater than ever before. Although the challenge is great, we have the knowledge to solve it. So what do we need to do?

 {Photo Credit: Rijasolo/AFP/Getty Images} A council worker sprays disinfectant while cleaning up a market in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in October 2017 during an outbreak of plague.Photo Credit: Rijasolo/AFP/Getty Images

This story was originally published by STAT News.

Ashley Arabasadi, Global Health Security Policy Adviser for Management Sciences for Health, describes the negative consequences of scaling back investments in CDC and USAID global health programs in this op-ed for STAT First Opinion.

The White House recently released a report outlining the progress and investments the U.S. has made to make the world safer from the threat of epidemics. But the key to epidemic preparedness and response is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose operations abroad will radically scale back due to looming funding cuts.

A health worker fills in a child’s immunization booklet during an immunization clinic at Phebe Hospital in central Bong County, Liberia. (Cindy Shiner/MSH)

After losing both her parents to Ebola, Liberian nurse Salome Karwah recovered from the virus herself. Protected by her new immunity, she returned to work to care for countless other victims. Time Magazine recognized her as a 2014 Person of the Year for her compassion and tirelessness. In February of this year, Nurse Karwah was rushed to the hospital with seizures following a cesarean delivery of her son. Her garish symptoms frightened the hospital staff that knew she had survived Ebola. They would not touch her. They let her die without treatment.

That is what stigma looks like.

Even after being declared free of Ebola, many survivors found themselves alone, as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported. A chilling new normal replaced the terror and death in the isolation wards: rejection by family, friends, and neighbors, even by their places of worship. Employers fired them. Customers abandoned them. There was no carrying on with the lives they knew before Ebola. There was only more loss.

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Community Health Workers during a morning of training on the lawn at Rukumo Health Center, Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

(This post originally appeared on the WomenDeliver blog.)

Throughout global societies, women’s roles place them at the epicenter of risk from disease outbreaks and epidemics. This is true everywhere, but especially so in poor countries with health systems unprepared to meet the ever-surging demands of a public health emergency.

The interaction between gender roles, disease transmission, and socio-economic stability reach a perilous tipping point in epidemics; failing to address that interaction will result in deficient strategies for outbreak prevention and control, and in massive setbacks for women’s health, and development gains. Unless global health security measures help us understand the impact of emerging diseases on women, nations and the world will remain vulnerable to pandemics.

 {Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH}Mark R. Dybul, executive director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed enthusiastic support for strategies combating epidemics in his keynote address.Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH

The No More Epidemics campaign convened a multi-sectoral panel on “Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda” at the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on May 25, 2016. Keynote speaker, Mark Dybul, MD, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed enthusiastic support for strategies combating epidemics. Dybul emphasized the importance of community level engagement in infectious disease preparedness and response, stressing that interventions cannot end at a health clinic, they must continue on to the “last mile”.

The panel was comprised of H.E. Kesetebirhan Admasu, MD, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; H.E. Aníbal Velasquez Valdivia, MD, Minister of Health, Peru; H.E. Elioda Tumwesigye, MD, Minister of Health, Uganda; as well as David Barash, MD, Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation; and Minister Renne Klinge, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Finland to Geneva.

The discussion, moderated by MSH President and CEO, Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, highlighted the need to ensure that epidemic prevention, preparedness and response capabilities are sustainable under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).