Politics is a global enterprise. If yesterday’s deadly epidemic in Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone demonstrates anything, it is that a quick, coordinated response by foreign health agencies is much more likely to prevent even one infected individual from infecting other people than a more localized response that focuses on the primary community the person had been visiting.
This has also shown the potential power of those affected countries to rapidly gather materials and resources to coordinate international responses to the outbreak. For example, UNICEF has established multiple vaccination bases across the region, including a stockpile of nearly a million doses of the malaria vaccine RTS,S in all three of the countries hardest hit. But there are two urgent communications steps that have not yet been taken: Give election officials face masks, and ensure that they are prepared for their national biosecurity measures.
Africa also urgently needs critical information about which countries are now experiencing a flu-like illness, as well as information about possible transmission pathways, for the decisions it will take regarding closing polling places or limiting voting.
Hospitals must work with diplomats and non-governmental organizations to ensure the International Health Regulations are observed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must use their key lessons learned in combating Ebola and use them to monitor and control the disease. Governments must keep teachers and students in class as well as ensure that families with loved ones at risk travel by public transportation, train, bus or foot.