Bruce Aylward: Humanity vs. Ebola. How we could win a terrifying war
Bruce Aylward - Epidemiologist
As the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization’s Polio and Emergencies Cluster, Bruce Aylward works to ensure that polio stays under control and that the world is prepared to respond to health crises. Full bio
a couple of months ago,
of titles with the organizers,
kicked around and were discussed.
was two months ago,
than we had ever seen,
concerned and alarmed
seen in recent history.
and I can talk to you about beating Ebola
whom you've never heard of,
doctor who's working in Lofa County,
never heard of, probably, in Liberia.
is so important
just starting to escalate,
the epicenter of this epidemic.
and the treatment center there,
every single day,
were becoming more and more terrified
and what it was doing to their families,
to their children, to their relatives.
driving that 12-hour-long rough road
up to Lofa County,
to the escalating epidemic there.
the terror that I just mentioned to you.
and he listened.
and the desperation
that Ebola did to people,
and what it did to communities.
and what they told him --
when our children are dying,
we want to be closest to them.
of them as our tradition demands.
the bodies to bury them
our rituals demand.
deeply disturbed, deeply alarmed
was unraveling in front of them.
workers who had come,
and help save the community,
and they were unable to access them.
Peter explained to the leaders.
They turned the tables.
He explained what the disease was.
to their communities.
everything that made us human.
the way you would in this situation.
the way that you would.
in these space suits to do that for you.
happened then was rather extraordinary:
Peter, they sat down together
for controlling Ebola in Lofa County.
an important story, ladies and gentlemen,
right at the center of this epidemic
you've been seeing in the newspapers,
the television screens,
without seeing a single case of Ebola.
the job is done, obviously.
that there will be additional cases there.
is that Ebola can be beaten.
that we saw in this environment here,
with health care workers, work together,
in Lofa County in the first place?
12 months, to the start of this epidemic.
this virus went undetected,
or four months when it began.
a disease of West Africa,
half a continent away.
the disease before.
they were dealing with,
even more complicated,
a type of a presentation
the disease, people who knew Ebola.
for some time,
sometimes these days,
there was a rapid surge in of support.
center, as many of you know, in the area.
and the partners that it works with
over the next two months
is by then, this virus,
had spread too far.
one of the largest responses
to an Ebola outbreak.
not just Guinea
were also infected.
the numbers were increasing
hundreds of people infected
the front line responders,
recognized the emergencies.
they agreed on common action
joint operation center in Conakry
disease and get it stopped,
we talked about.
we had never seen before with Ebola.
or someone sick with the virus,
flew to another country,
we saw in another distant country
in the teeming metropolis of Lagos,
there was international alarm,
we hadn't seen in recent years
called together an expert panel,
declared an international emergency.
that there would be a huge outpouring
to help these countries
and concern at that time.
something very different.
many, many NGOs and others, as you know,
happened in many places.
these countries found themselves
but increasingly isolated.
started flying into these countries
exposed to the virus
for the countries themselves,
trying to bring people in,
respond to the outbreak,
people on airplanes,
countries to be able to respond.
ladies and gentleman,
also we hadn't seen before.
continue in the places
but then it started to escalate
that you see here,
on such a scale,
already infected in these countries
deeper into these countries.
this was one of the most concerning
we've ever seen.
read about in the newspapers,
under the weight of this epidemic.
markets no longer started,
that they should in these countries.
misperceptions started to spread
which became even more alarmed
that you saw in those space suits,
who had come to help them.
deteriorated even further.
a state of emergency.
in some areas, and then riots broke out.
many people began to ask,
when it starts to spread like this?
do we really know this virus?
Ebola extremely well.
in terms of what we know about it.
in Central Africa in 1976.
probably survives in a type of a bat.
a human population
and probably sickened by it.
spreads from person to person
that it then causes in humans,
severe fevers, diarrhea, vomiting,
of the cases or often more, death.
debilitating, and deadly disease.
this disease for a particularly long time,
we do know how to stop this disease.
that are critical to stopping Ebola.
have got to understand this disease,
how it spreads and how to stop it.
systems that can find every single case,
so that you can stop transmission.
specialized Ebola treatment centers,
to the people who are infected,
the same time dignified, burial process,
at that time as well.
strategies work, ladies and gentlemen.
by these four strategies
spread, and also in the other countries
in this outbreak.
these strategies actually work.
was whether these strategies could work
with so many countries affected
growth that you saw.
facing just two or three months ago.
because of the extraordinary work
of governments, of local leaders,
and other organizations
to try and stop Ebola in West Africa.
was slightly different.
I just showed you;
the case finding, contact tracing, etc.,
they approached it differently.
first try and slow down this epidemic
possible in specialized treatment centers
from spreading from those were infected.
many, many burial teams
deal with the dead,
and slow this outbreak
be controlled using the classic approach
about three months ago,
what I saw was extraordinary.
operation centers themselves against Ebola
and oversee and champion
to try and stop this disease.
those countries and from far beyond
Ebola treatment centers
those who were sick.
its partner agencies on the ground there
they could actually safely bury their dead
the World Food Program,
corner of these countries rapidly
that we just talked about.
which was probably most impressive,
by the governments,
with the communities,
understood this disease,
would have to do to try and stop Ebola.
only two or three months earlier,
what you see now in this graph,
bend that curve, so to speak,
to the ability to control this outbreak.
there's absolutely no question now
in West Africa and we can beat Ebola.
that many people are asking,
that's great you can slow it down,
drive it down to zero?"
back at the beginning of this talk,
how Lofa County got to a situation
Ebola for eight weeks.
the other countries as well.
in the last couple of months,
another area in the epicenter,
for more than a couple of weeks --
catch up to the disease,
is doing this on the scale needed
and that is a huge challenge.
for this long, on this scale,
come in to join the virus.
disease curve starts to bend,
the world looks elsewhere.
you've been working so hard for so long,
over the past months,
start to creep into the response.
I've just come back from West Africa.
the leaders of these countries,
in their countries.
but they are not fatigued.
to get this finished.
and gentlemen, at this point,
at this time, to get the job finished.
means turning the tables on this virus,
rather, started with one case,
have got enough epidemiologists,
and enough other people working with them
of those cases, track their contacts
stops once and for all.
to tell it to the people who will listen
on what it means to beat Ebola,
we need you to advocate with the people
need to these countries,
who will survive and will thrive,
to help us beat Ebola.
About the speaker:Bruce Aylward - Epidemiologist
As the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization’s Polio and Emergencies Cluster, Bruce Aylward works to ensure that polio stays under control and that the world is prepared to respond to health crises.
Why you should listen
A Canadian physician and epidemiologist who has authored some 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, Bruce Aylward is an expert on infectious diseases. He joined the World Health Organization in 1992 and worked in the field for seven years on national immunization programs for measles, tetanus and hepatitis in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Aylward has overseen and managed the scale-up of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1998, during which time the program expanded to operate in every country of the world, the annual global budget increased to $700 million a year, polio-funded staff deployed by WHO grew to over 3,500 people worldwide, and new monovalent oral poliovirus vaccines were developed for the programme. In 2014, only three countries remained polio-endemic.
He says: "It's been estimated that our investment in smallpox eradication pays off every 26 days."
Since 2011, Aylward has also led WHO’s work in preparedness, readiness and response to health emergencies. By developing global strategies, analyzing health trends and advising on policies and country collaboration, the WHO helps make sure that outbreaks — like the 2014 ebola epidemic — stay under control.
Bruce Aylward | Speaker | TED.com