Paul Farmer: Remember the 4 S’s

Despite repeated lessons from natural disasters and explosive epidemics like Ebola, many low- and middle-income countries still don’t have what they need: the 4 S’s, Partners in Health co-founder Paul Farmer said during a keynote speech at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference attendees on Sunday.
Stuff, staff, space and systems make all the difference in saving lives during an outbreak, Farmer told more than 1,000 attendees during the opening #TropMed17 plenary. As an example, he pointed to the case fatality rate of 23% in 1967 in Marburg, Germany when the Marburg virus was first discovered. He compared that to an 86% case fatality rate in Africa during recent Marburg outbreaks.
Too often the media and global community focus on the “exotica” such as primate carriers of disease during outbreaks while the more mundane aspects are ignored, he said. “We don’t think about the health system. We don’t think about training. We don’t think about strengthening national institutions, and that has been the tragedy in West Africa as well,” Farmer said.

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