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Pape Gaye, president and CEO of IntraHealth International, will address the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Wednesday during the hearing, “The Ebola Epidemic: The Keys to Success for the International Response.” Gaye will urge the US to invest in the local health workforces needed to curb the current epidemic and to commit to continued investments in helping countries develop and support the health workers they need to build resilient health systems.
The current Ebola outbreak is the largest in history. More than 17,800 individuals have been infected and 6,300 have died as of November 30, according to the World Health Organization. Due in large part to weak health systems and lack of training, support, and equipment, the epidemic disproportionately affects those who are most vital to curbing the epidemic: health workers.
Since March, 622 health workers have been infected, and 346 have died.
“Let there be no misunderstanding,” says Pape Gaye in his written testimony. “If health workforce deficiencies do not get the high-level political attention the issue sorely needs and it continues to languish as a global health policy afterthought, this Ebola outbreak will continue to threaten both global health security and the tremendous progress the United States has helped to lead in saving women’s and children’s lives and fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea all had fewer than three doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people even before the Ebola outbreak began. The World Health Organization last year estimated 83 countries are below the minimum threshold of 22.8 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people necessary to provide essential services to a population.
Ebola’s impact on already fragile health workforces and systems could cause deaths far beyond those from the viral infection. Ebola is disrupting primary health care services. Many clients are left without essential services for maternal and child health, HIV, and other issues in the countries most affected. The long-term impact is not yet known.
Gaye will join the Honorable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health; Dr. Anne Peterson of World Vision; and Javier Alvarez of Mercy Corps in providing testimony.
Hearing begins at time marker 18:30.