What Have We Learned from the Ebola Outbreak?

It’s now been just over a year and a half of the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. We’ve dabbled in vaccines, but the best prevention method is still abstaining from contact with symptomatic patients, and the best treatment is still basically hydration. We’ve figured out that Ebola survivors seem at least temporarily immune, making them ideal health workers, but we still haven’t perfected treatment protocols and caretakers are still dying from the disease.

This week on Radio Motherboard, we spoke to Kayla Ruble, who covered the outbreak in Liberia for Vice News, and who says we’ve learned that the most effective way to fight Ebola is to be aggressive with the most basic tactics: public awareness, basic sanitation, and working with the local culture instead of against it. We also talked to Mahad Ibrahim, who consulted with the Liberia Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in order to organize information coming out of the outbreak. He says we’ve learned that computers and mobile phones simply don’t work the way they’re intended in a crisis, and it’s better to have local health workers and volunteers take down notes on paper and digitize it later.

We also spoke to Decontee Davis, who contracted the virus almost exactly a year ago. She’s the woman who didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her fiancé before he died a few wards over. “People are still afraid. Even me, I am afraid,” she said. “If there is a single case, Liberia is still [in] outbreak. Right now, we have up to four cases. People are still afraid.”

“I will be happy when Liberia is completely Ebola free.”