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Special Topics - Ebola

Message from the Dean

Dean Michael J. KlagIn the current Ebola epidemic, we are confronting one of the world’s most lethal and unforgiving foes. The official numbers for cases and deaths—large and tragic as they are—underestimate the outbreak’s true toll in West Africa. Its spread to other countries such as Nigeria, Spain and the U.S., demonstrates that Ebola is clearly a threat to global health and security.

Many immediate and long-term needs must be met before humanity can look back on this epidemic as history. Some are the responsibility of governments and international organizations: securing financial support, building and staffing treatment facilities, providing pay and protective gear for and training of health workers, delivering supplies, coordinating regional efforts, and so on.

The world looks to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other academic institutions to help understand the virus’s basic underlying mechanisms, model the outbreak’s epidemiology, maximize health systems infrastructure, design effective behavior change communications and make other contributions. The knowledge, evidence and programs that we and other organizations generate are invaluable tools against an epidemic like Ebola.

Our faculty, alumni and students are making a difference on the front lines of the epidemic. Liberia’s assistant Minister of Health Tolbert Nyenswah is a Bloomberg School alumnus and faculty member doing heroic work. In addition to coordinating Liberia’s response with WHO and other organizations, he’s working with faculty in our Department of International Health to manage and effectively respond to this outbreak. Our faculty also are working with colleagues from the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring their expertise in treating and preventing Ebola to West Africa. In addition, the School’s Center for Communication Programs (CCP) is helping coordinate behavioral interventions for emergency response and prevention in Liberia.

Realizing that knowledge is an essential weapon against any epidemic, I convened 15 experts in mid-October at the Bloomberg School. 

The insights they shared about the epidemic’s impact, best responses, latest vaccines and therapeutic options, and other issues began to chart a course for successful interventions. Through social media, that symposium has reached more than a million people.

The Ebola epidemic, unfortunately, will not be stopped as quickly as the people of West Africa—and we—would like. However, the Bloomberg School is leveraging its strengths in research, communication and public health practice to do all it can to stem the devastating epidemic.

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Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health