USA TODAY 08/06/14

Steven Hoffman and Julia Belluz, “Ebola will continue to move through Africa — this time, and again in the future — not only because of the viral reservoirs and broken health systems specific to the continent. There are much larger issues at play here. … Most all of the money for research and development in health comes from the private sector. They naturally have a singular focus — making money — and they do that by selling patent-protected products to many people who can and are willing to pay very high monopoly prices. Not by developing medicines and vaccines for the world’s poorest people, like those suffering with Ebola. More money goes into fighting baldness and erectile dysfunction than hemorrhagic fevers like dengue or Ebola.”

Harriet A. Washington, CNN: “Ebola has no cure, although potential medications and vaccines are in various states of development. … A United Nations official suggested that drugs cannot be tested in the middle of an epidemic — but he is wrong. Such tests are conducted all the time. Dr. David Ho tested AIDS drugs in Uganda in the midst of the pandemic, and the meningitis drug Trovan was tested in Kano, Nigeria, in the midst of an epidemic. One of every three industry trials is conducted in developing countries; scientists often point to high disease rates, including epidemics, as a rationale for conducting them there. The problem is not testing the drug amid an epidemic. The question is how ethically such trials are conducted.”

Michael Shank, Reuters: “Africa is the new frontier for the U.S. Defense Department. … It staged more than 546 military exercises on the continent last year, a 217% increase since 2008, and is now involved in nearly 50 African countries. U.S. military and police aid to all Africa this year totaled nearly $1.8 billion, with additional arms sales surpassing $800 million. In terms of ensuring Africa’s safety and security, however, the return on this investment is questionable. What if, for example, that money was instead spent eradicating pervasive viruses that are undermining Africa’s future? Yellow fever vaccination doses cost less than $1, and Hepatitis B vaccination doses cost 25 cents or less. These viruses, and their deadly bedfellows like Ebola, are the real threats terrorizing African communities — and more deserving of U.S. defense dollars.”