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Doctor who helped lead Ebola response warns crisis far from over

Health workers take nine-year-old Nowa Paye to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia. AP 2014

For today’s Humanosphere podcast, we’re talking with Gilles van Cutsem, a physician and Medical Director for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders in South Africa and Lesotho.

Gilles van CutsemVan Cutsem worked on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and wants everyone to recognize the crisis is very far from over due to the ongoing threat as well as the less-appreciated, wide-ranging devastation this outbreak has left in its wake across West Africa.

Van Cutsem was in Seattle this week for a big conference with a daunting name – the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, or CROI – a meeting largely focused on what’s happening in biomedical research to advance the fight against HIV and AIDS.

But some of the conference is focused on other infectious threats, like Ebola. Van Cutsem gave several presentations on Ebola, including research findings reported this week in the New York Times. He took every opportunity to go beyond the science, to advocate for the needs of West Africa and to warn against losing our sense of this as still an urgent crisis.

MSF's Gilles van Cutsem confers with colleagues on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

MSF’s Gilles van Cutsem confers with colleagues on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

As we always do, Tom Paulson and I talk about some of the notable news stories in the Humanosphere. The first story we discuss is this post by Paulson out of CROI on how a major advance in HIV prevention excludes women (who represent 60 percent of the HIV-infected today, worldwide), an amusing post by Tom Murphy on a Twitter conversation in which people compare humanitarian work with Star Wars and a KPLU story I did about how the fight against terrorism is cutting off a lifeline to the poor in Somalia. Humanosphere has reported on this issue for years but it has now come to a very tragic nadir that is getting more widespread public attention.

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.