How Slow Responses Made the Ebola Outbreak So Deadly – Facts So Romantic

As a rule, huge organizations move sluggishly, bogged down in democratic decision-making processes and bureaucratic policies. Ebola, on the other hand, moves fast. People become desperately sick and contagious within a few weeks of infection. By the time international agencies effectively responded to the ongoing Ebola outbreak, it had spiraled out of control in West Africa.

Although the rate of infection has now slowed in Sierra Leone and Guinea—and appears to have halted in Liberia—the Ebola virus has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people to date. Had the international response been more responsive to the shifting situation, more organized, more trusting of infectious-disease experts, and braver and bolder early on, the death toll might not have been so high, the operation so expensive. From a distance, the plodding pace of the international Ebola response is understandable given the constraints of the system. But people who witnessed the outbreak up close—although thankful for the good will—tend to be less forgiving.  

The gallery that follows is a timeline, of sorts, of the response to the disease. I reported and shot this story over the course of two month-long visits to Sierra Leone in December 2014…

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