Ebola In West Africa Is A Wake-Up Call

Els Torreele | Aljazeera English | November 6, 2014

Eight months into the world's worst Ebola outbreak, we have lost 5,000 lives and expect to see more infections and deaths in the coming months. The reason is simple: We have no drug to cure Ebola, or vaccine to prevent it.

It didn't have to be this way. If medicines were actually developed to respond to health needs, we would already have effective vaccines and drugs to prevent and control this deadly disease. Instead, health workers can only provide supportive care, and watch as 70 percent of patients die.

Many have lamented the lack of Ebola drugs and vaccines as a "market failure". Because Ebola outbreaks have historically been sporadic and only affected a few people, drug companies have not seen a big enough market to invest in it, even if a great deal of government funding has gone into supporting early research. But this market explanation is only part of a larger reality. Our current system for developing new medicines is by design ill-suited to address the world's health needs...