As part of its review of U.S. engagement in the global response to the current Ebola epidemic, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) sought insights from a panel of experts with decades of experience on the front lines of fighting infectious diseases.
Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said he hopes the Ebola epidemic will prompt health officials in the U.S. and around the world to get ready for what he believes could be even more disruptive and deadly encounters with infectious disease in the near future.
“It would be nice if for once the world could be proactive,” he said.
For example, Hotez said he has been advising the State Department and the White House that “the next shoe about to drop is in the Middle East and North Africa.”
“In ISIS-occupied Syria and Iraq we are already seeing refugees pouring across the border into Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. We are seeing rabies, huge amounts of Leishmaniasis. We are going to see Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. We have got to build capacity for the next big thing that is going to happen.”
Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA, observed that it has been the enduring frustration of public health veterans that preventative measures often are not widely embraced and thus struggle for attention and funding.
“Having spent most of my life trying to get people excited by non-events, which is what prevention is, we have to be realistic,” she said.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.