Ebola’s Next Chapter: A Conversation with Dr. Peter Piot and Dr. Jonathan Quick

Ebola’s Next Chapter: A Conversation with Dr. Peter Piot and Dr. Jonathan Quick

 {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH}L to R: Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, Stefanie Friedhoff, Dr. Peter PiotPhoto credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH

On March 27, 2015, Dr. Peter Piot of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH President and CEO, sat down at the Boston Public Library with Stefanie Friedhoff of The Boston Globe to discuss Ebola, epidemic preparedness and rebuilding public health systems. 

Watch the video of the whole program:

Here are some excerpts from their conversation:

Stefanie Friedhoff: What did countries do that worked well in the Ebola fight?

Jonathan Quick: There were 6 things that worked well in three of the rim countries of Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

  1. Leadership: Ministers of Health were on top of the first cases and declared national emergencies.
  2. Preparedness of public health systems.
  3. Rapid action in getting the index case identified and case detection system for subsequent cases.
  4. Good communications campaigns.
  5. Mobilizing the community.
  6. Heroism of local health workers.

SF: Why was the international response so slow? What should be done?

Peter Piot: Start with the national response. Countries were reluctant to report cases and minimized what they saw. WHO reacts to countries and when they didn’t react, WHO was too slow.

The International Health Regulations (IHR) are probably the most important international treaty related to health (second to the tobacco treaty) and there needs to be better implementation and not reliance on self-reported assessments. The committee on the IHR should be independent and meet regularly and be transparent about its assessments.

SF: What can be done now? How can the world come together?

PP: The world needs an integrated body like WHO in terms of epidemics and regulations. The last thing we need is a new organization.   

Need to go beyond the Ministries of Health in the response—health is too important to be left only to the doctors and Ministers of Health. Need to involve higher levels of government.

JQ: It’s the advocacy that will help keep WHO accountable and help inform policy. It is the advocates and activists that kept UNAIDS accountable during the height of the AIDS crisis.


Photos: Rachel Hassinger/MSH