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September 10, 2014

The Ebola outbreak: Northwestern faces the challenge

by Dan Rodriguez

I wanted to share with you some of the interesting and important work that Professor Juliet Sorensen and her cross-campus colleagues are doing on the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Today is Global Health Day at the Feinberg School of Medicine and there will be a faculty panel on the Ebola outbreak at noon. Panelists will “discuss the virology, transmission, epidemiology, and prevention of the disease, the current state of the outbreak, as well as how emergency departments and field staff collect data and prepare. [They] will also discuss the ethical considerations of the outbreak and efforts to contain it, including the selective use of the experimental and untested ZMapp drug on two American physicians infected in W. Africa.” Juliet will participate as one of the panelists.

In a few weeks, on October 1, Juliet and Dr. Shannon Galvin will give a talk here at the Law School on “Ebola, Health and Human Rights,” which will focus on the nexus between the Ebola crisis, access to health issues, and the human right to the highest attainable standard of health.” This program is sponsored by the Center for International Human Rights; the Center for Global Health; the Program of African Studies; and a new student organization, the Health Law Society.

Additionally, Northwestern University’s law and medical schools are actively partnering with the University of Bamako in Mali, on access to health issues and the Ebola outbreak. Dr. Robert Murphy, the director of the Center for Global Health, oversees a lab at the University of Bamako that is at the front lines of Ebola testing, and he and others from his team partner with the Northwestern Access to Health Project—which Juliet directs—to conduct health and human rights trainings in Douentza, Mali.

Juliet founded the Access to Health Project to leverage research and clinical expertise from across the University in an effort to develop long-term health improvement projects that evolve from interdisciplinary needs assessment in communities across the globe, and it happens that they have been working in Mali this year. This work will continue into next year as well.

This is challenging and important work. I thank Juliet and her colleagues for taking it on, and I wish them the best success.


UPDATE: Here are links to two reports on the October 10, 2014, Global Health Day panel:

Feinberg Global Health Day gathers panel to discuss Ebola outbreak

Faculty Experts Discuss Ebola Virus During Global Health Day


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