Tackling the ebola epidemic in west Africa: why we need a holistic approach

Thursday, June 19, 2014

As the death toll from ebola in west Africa continues to rise, there is a growing awareness of the threat of diseases transmitted from animals to people.

Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever that causes uncontrolled bleeding, is dramatic in its manifestation and has a case fatality rate of up to 90%. Its emergence can be sudden and unexplained, and, as the recent crisis shows, it can spread across communities and borders with alarming speed.

What the outbreak confirms is that if animal transmitted diseases such as Ebola – known as zoonoses – are to be tackled effectively, the response must go beyond media focus and immediate medical action when an epidemic hits. There is a crucial need for multidisciplinary working over the longer term to gain a holistic understanding of the causes of these diseases.

This so-called one health approach takes as its premise an understanding that human health, animal health and environmental health are all interlinked. It calls for collaborative efforts between natural and social scientists – including doctors, vets, environmental scientists, geographers and anthropologists – at local, national and international levels.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases