“It’s like fighting a forest fire. Leave behind one burning ember and the epidemic could re-ignite. That ember could be one case undetected, one contact not traced or healthcare worker not effectively protected, or one burial ceremony conducted unsafely.”

The Ebola epidemic which struck Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2014 is the largest outbreak of the virus in history. Weak health systems, a shortage of health workers, traditional burial practices, and mistrust in government messages all contributed to the dramatic escalation of the outbreak. Travel-associated cases appeared in Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and even countries outside Africa, including the United States. The public health response to the outbreak involved a multitude of actors, with the U.S. government playing a pivotal role in bringing the outbreak under control.

Over the course of 2014, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center provided critical analyses of the U.S. and international emergency response to the outbreak, as well as efforts to research and develop vaccines and antivirals, diagnostic tools, and treatments for Ebola. Our current work focuses on defining the lessons learned from the Ebola catastrophe and exploring options for reforming international emergency response mechanisms. Other areas of focus include examining the indirect effects of the Ebola outbreak on health, as well as the recovery and reconstruction efforts that are underway in the three most-affected countries.

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