Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak

In This Review

Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak
By Reid Wilson
Brookings Institution Press, 2018
300 pp.

The 2013 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed at least 11,000 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As this excellent book shows, the international health community was woefully unprepared to address the epidemic. West Africa suered from weak healthcare infrastructure, particularly in the three worst-hit countries, which had each recently been ravaged by civil war or political turmoil. In some cases, individual acts of heroism by health-care workers, some of whom lost their lives, mitigated the institutional weakness. But as the epidemic widened and panic spread around the globe, the World Health Organization, which was designed to lead the international response to such a catastrophe, proved dysfunctional. Much of the action in Wilson’s book takes place in the United States, where the Obama administration led the effort to better understand and contain the epidemic. He also shows how nongovernmental organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, played key roles on the ground in West Africa. Wilson offers many lessons to help everyone involved prepare for the inevitable next outbreak.

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