Ebola has caused epidemics in the past, and with the development of vaccines is now often erroneously considered to be under control. The fact remains, however, that we only have vaccines against a very few specific subtypes of Ebola, but not against the vast majority of subtypes. Furthermore it should be realised that the virus remains present in many parts of Africa, often unnoticed until a new epidemic flares up.
Good outbreak control relies – as it does for virtually all infectious diseases – on applying a package of interventions most of which are well nigh impossible to implement in LEDCs, including case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures (including vaccination) that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.
The WHA should discuss ways in which implementation of measures against Ebola (and potentially other infectious diseases) could be organised in the relevant LEDCs, especially those that are the main reservoir from which outbreaks arise.