23 September 2014. BBC World Service’s radio programme, BBC Africa Debate, will take its September edition to Accra, Ghana, to discuss the Ebola epidemic. Presented by the BBC’s Akwasi Sarpong and Dr Graham Easton who guest-presents Health Check for BBC World Service, BBC Africa Debate will explore why the Ebola outbreak was able to spread so extensively, and look at wider lessons to be learnt about containing local epidemics in today’s world.
The Ebola epidemic has exposed the fragility of public health systems in the affected countries, with healthcare workers dying alongside their patients as they lack basic necessities. The epidemic also has exposed weak leadership from governments across the region, which have been slow to act, and revealed a potentially dangerous lack of trust from their electorates.
The outbreak has already had a devastating impact on what has been an unstable region in the past. With so few doctors to care for Ebola victims, non-related ailments are overlooked – with deadly consequences for the vulnerable. Meanwhile, economies have already been hit hard by cancelled flights and travel warnings. They could take a long time to recover.
Akwasi Sarpong says: “We are holding this conversation in Ghana where there are no confirmed Ebola cases but where health authorities are on high alert as nearby Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are overwhelmed by the virus which has also claimed some lives in Nigeria. We will ask why initial response in the current virus attack failed. We want to know how future outbreaks can be prevented and contained when global travel is so easy.
The Ebola debate also brings to the fore the need for more medical research into neglected diseases in poorer countries – and an effective response in case of any future outbreaks.”
The debate will involve a panel and invited audience including international health experts, representatives of medical charities, government representatives from Ghana and the affected countries, and friends and family of people affected by Ebola. Audiences can also join the debate via social media, with conversations on Twitter (#bbcafricadebate) and on Facebook and Google+ (search for BBC Africa).
This edition of BBC Africa Debate will be recorded on Wednesday 24 September. It will be broadcast by BBC World Service at 19.00 GMT on Friday 26 September and will be repeated at 12.00 GMT on Sunday 28 September. The debate will also be online at bbcafrica.com.