Comment faire face au virus Ebola ?

NEW YORK – L’horreur du virus Ebola, qui frappe pas moins de quatre pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Guinée, Liberia, Sierra Leone et Nigeria), nécessite non seulement une réaction urgente afin d’endiguer sa propagation, mais exige également que l’on repense un certain nombre de postulats de base en matière de santé publique mondiale. Nous vivons une époque dans laquelle les maladies infectieuses émergentes et réémergentes sont susceptibles de se propager rapidement au travers des réseaux mondiaux. C’est pourquoi nous avons besoin d’un système de contrôle des maladies à l’échelle globale, d’une envergure qui permette d’appréhender cette réalité. La bonne nouvelle, c’est que l’instauration d’un tel système est à notre portée, à condition que nous investissions intelligemment.

L’Ebola est la plus récente des nombreuses maladies épidémiques apparues dernièrement, en premier lieu desquelles le SIDA, le SRAS ainsi que les grippes H1N1 et H7N9. Le SIDA est la plus mortelle de ces maladies, ayant emporté avec elle près de 36 millions de vies humaines depuis 1981.

Plusieurs maladies épidémiques sont capables de s’étendre encore plus considérablement et soudainement, tels que la grippe espagnole apparue à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, qui tua entre 50 et 100 millions de personnes (soit bien davantage que la guerre elle-même). Et bien qu’il ait été possible d’endiguer la propagation du SRAS en 2003, et de limiter ainsi le nombre de décès à moins de 1 000, cette maladie s’apprêtait à perturber considérablement plusieurs économies d’Asie de l’Est parmi lesquelles la Chine.

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