Twenty-two months after the Ebola outbreak began, Sierra Leone is free of the disease, and is celebrating with this "Bye Bye Ebola" music video. The bad news? Ebola still hasn't been eradicated everywhere — and a new Lancet report suggests the world is completely unprepared for another global disease outbreak.
Sierra Leone says bye-bye, Ebola
First, the good news: Sierra Leone was finally declared Ebola-free earlier this month. Now the country is celebrating with a heartwarming music video, "Bye Bye Ebola." In the video, Sierra Leoneans look jubilant — a happy turn from the despair they suffered, with community-wide quarantines and advisories to avoid public gatherings, hugging, and handshaking in order to stop transmission of the virus.
Sierra Leonean rapper Block Jones gets locals of all stripes — from the country's president to health workers wearing hazmat suits — to dance and wave their arms, welcoming their new post-Ebola life.
Sierra Leone was among the three West African countries hit hardest by the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history, which lasted 22 months and killed more than 11,300 people. Neighboring Guinea — where the epidemic originated — also had some good news: Its last known Ebola patient has recovered, and if no new cases are reported, it too will soon be declared Ebola-free.
But the epidemic still isn't over
Now the bad news: While Sierra Leone and Guinea may be celebrating, Liberia is just learning about another disappointing setback in its Ebola fight. The country's health officials recently uncovered several patients who have the Ebola virus. This news follows two previous declarations that the country was Ebola-free, in May and again in September.
Worse still: Experts are warning that we're ill-prepared for another outbreak. In a newly released analysis from The Lancet, an independent panel convened by Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine collected the lessons learned from the epidemic and the reforms that need to happen before the next big disease outbreak hits.
The researchers suggest we need to develop a global strategy to invest in, monitor, and sustain every country's capacity to respond to health problems. They also outline a number of reforms to the World Health Organization, which they say is ill-equipped to coordinate responses to global health crises.
As one of the panelists, Harvard's Ashish Jha, told Vox, "The scary part about Ebola is looking at this outbreak and thinking, 'I have no confidence something even more catastrophic won't happen tomorrow.' There are all these vulnerabilities are out there."