The Ebola outbreak has killed a thousand of people and devastating the health systems and economies of three African nations. But the next outbreak could be a lot worse if we fail to learn some key lessons, Bill Gates said.
To push his message into reality, Bill Gates erected a mock Ebola field hospital at the prestigious TED Conference as part of a call to be battle-ready for a deadly global epidemic.
He called for ‘germ games not war games’ to train response forces and reveal holes in defenses.
People attending the TED Conference were invited to go through the laborious process of donning protective gear, working in the hospital, and then going through a sanitizing exercise afterwards.
A hallway was transformed into an Ebola station where TED attendees went through a laborious process of donning protective gear, such as wriggling into over-sized rubber boots and yellow bodysuits.
Heads and faces were covered with hoods, goggles and breathing masks. And a new cooling vest which was lined with ice packs to offset stifling heat made by the Gates Foundation.
Doctors and workers who have spent time on the battle lines against deadly epidemics, in a real-life setting, people would have been fighting for their lives.
The visualization was narrowed by suffocating headgear. Difficult in breathing because of the masks. Under pressure to be cautious enough about exposing skin, which could mean death.
Then came the most terrifying part of the process for health care workers, stepping out and removing a suit now certainly coated with the deadly and contagious virus.
In that haste, careless moves can twist doctors into patients.
A difficulty in preparing for contagious diseases is that there is financial scarcity to devote in vaccines since most threaten developing countries where money to pay for medicine is scarce, said epidemiologist Seth Berkley, Chief of Gavi, a global vaccine initiative.
“It is not a question of if but when. These bugs are going to evolve and they are going to threaten the world,” Berkley said at TED.
“We need to take on the risk of vaccine development and stockpile creation, having an ultimate deterrent available, but praying never to use it.”