A vaccine will not solve the problem


Professor of the department on Ebola outbreak in Congo

In an interview in the news programme "DW Noticias" of the Spanish programme of Germany’s public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Prof. Dr. Dr. Jens Holst emphasised the overriding importance of social determinants for the emergence and spread of life-threatening epidemics such as Ebola. The physician and health scientist Holst, who holds the professorship for Medicine with a Special Focus on Global Health at Fulda University of Applied Sciences where he heads the bachelor's degree programme “International Health Sciences”, was invited as an expert to the Berlin studio of Deutsche Welle to make a technical assessment of the Ebola outbreak in the Congo and the declaration of an international state of emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). Prof. Holst explained the WHO's action as useful and appropriate and referred to the very low risk of the epidemic spreading to Europe and other parts of the world, which is regularly overestimated in the Western press. In assessing the recent Ebola outbreak in Eastern Africa, he referred to essential evidence of health sciences that shows a close link between people's social and living conditions, on the one hand, and certain health risks, on the other hand. Both the usual media coverage and the visible political reactions in the more prosperous countries of the world as well as the usual approaches to overcoming such epidemics remain insufficient, as long as the social, political and economic conditions do not experience a fundamental improvement. The affected area has since long been characterised by poverty and lack of perspective; a functioning health system is lacking, the state is scarcely present, and major governance deficits exist. Even an Ebola vaccine will not change this, even if its effectiveness is definitively proven and its availability ensured. The key to avoiding dangerous epidemics is to overcome the basic conditions and determinants that promote their emergence and spread.

You can watch the interview with Prof. Holst on the Deutsche Welle website.

Interested in the International Health Sciences Bachelor's programme? You can find information about the programme in English as well as in German.