JSI Director of Logistics Services Edward Wilson reflects on three important lessons to consider as we prepare for future crises.
There is still much to be done, of course. But Sierra Leone is on its way to a health system that meets the needs of its people—and, given the toll that Ebola took, is ready to confront the next infectious disease—be it Ebola or some other virus—with stronger, better-prepared health services.
In Liberia, Ebola survivors come from every county, background, and profession. While they have all lived through trauma and loss, they have much more than Ebola in common. They are proud, resilient, and like many citizens of the country, hopeful about the future. They want the world to hear their needs but not define them by a virus.
Ebola survivors have an abundance of medical and psychological problems: musculoskeletal conditions that cause joint stiffness; ocular conditions that can lead to cataracts and blindness; anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder—to name a few—all of which require specialized medical care. More resources need to be directed to helping survivors get appropriate health care and mental health services.
The resilience of a health system is to not only withstand sudden disasters, natural or man-made, but to also deal with the slow, progressive crisis that erodes the ability to meet a growing demand of health services from the population.
Developing countries often face the unexpected: disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and political unrest. To sustain advances in their health systems while safeguarding communities, health staff and organizations need strategies that promote system resilience—the capacity to anticipate and respond to crises; maintain core functions when shocks strike; and reorganize when extreme conditions or circumstances arise.
To prevent future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases, high-quality health information system data must be readily available.