Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Global Health Experts Lead Community Conversation at Vanderbilt University on U.S. Leadership on Ebola in West Africa and at Home
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, Oct. 27, 2014 – On November 21, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., founder of Hope Through Healing Hands; J. Stephen Morrison, Ph.D., Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; William Schaffner, M.D., professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and Sten H. Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health will lead a roundtable on Ebola that will take place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Light Hall Room 208, 2215 Garland Ave., in Nashville, from 10-11:30 a.m. The forum is jointly sponsored by Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH). It will be on-the-record, and open to media.
The United States is engaged in a two front war against Ebola – at home, and abroad in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The four roundtable speakers will open with remarks on key dimensions of the Ebola crisis: the evolving U.S. approach to preventing, detecting and responding to cases entering the United States; the U.S. military-led mobilization in Liberia and the broader international effort under UN coordination; the exponential growth of the epidemic itself in West Africa and critical steps to break the chain of transmission; and accelerated efforts to develop new technological tools, e.g. a rapid diagnostic test, vaccines, and treatments.
A lively, interactive conversation will follow, into which Muktar Aliyu, M.D., Associate Director for Research for the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health and James E. Crowe, Jr., M.D., Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, will be invited to add their thoughts. Over the course of the conversation, special consideration will also be given to what future changes will be needed in U.S. approaches, both to domestic public health capacities and the long-term scientific research agenda, and to post-Ebola reconstruction in West Africa, including investments in basic health services.
A big part of infectious disease control is investing money in the right places, ideally at the source of the problem as early as possible, changing habits and having the right targeted response, Frist explained. “If we had invested one-tenth of what people think we have invested, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he said.
“Ebola is a modern plague, which sorely tests U.S. leadership at multiple points. It requires grappling with considerable unknowns, and preserving the confidence, trust and support of the American people,” Morrison commented. “We are just at the front end of a long process of thinking through the strategies that will work most effectively in this two front battle.”
Sten Vermund adds, “I write this from rural Mozambique where clinics have no running water or hand sanitizer; the spread of Ebola virus from West Africa to other under capacitated regions would be catastrophic. We must control it where it emerged.”
Hope Through Healing Hands is a Nashville-based 501(C) 3 nonprofit with a mission to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace. Senator Bill Frist, M.D., is the founder and chair of the organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the CEO/Executive Director.
The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health fosters multidisciplinary research, teaching, and service activities linked to health and development in resource-limited settings of the developing world, and forges a collaborative environment through multidisciplinary approaches rooted in academic research and training, and pragmatic community partnerships. This effort enables the establishment of a research and development agenda that informs training and capacity building programs throughout Vanderbilt University in the area of global health.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, D.C., is a non-partisan, independent non-profit institution that concentrates on U.S. policy approaches to defense and security, regional stability, and transitional challenges ranging from energy and climate to global health and economic integration.