Ebola and Risk Management

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I realize this may sound a bit edgy and outside the general project management realm. But I really don't think it is...best practices and wise policies are just that. And it's obvious that, at times, these haven't been followed well. I've been reading about the Ebola situation since well before it ever became an issue in the US or in Europe. I am a project manager, but I'm also a parent of several special needs kids with health concerns. If they are exposed to Ebola - or even the enterovirus D68 - they would not likely be among the lucky ones to recover so these issues matter greatly to me. And, since we live in Las Vegas where everyone likes to visit, the possibility of someone bringing it to our soil is high.

Now the CDC chief is forecasting 5,000 - 10,000 new cases per week in West Africa by December, specialized teams are going to be deployed in the US to each hospital that identifies a new case and training is happening - finally - all over. I personally feel that we are playing catchup now - unfortunately - and will start seeing new cases weekly in the US...possibly in growing numbers.

So, thinking in terms of risk management and proactive action (and reactive action for that matter), what knowledge could we - as project managers offer? Of how would we do things differently? More needs to be done and the time is now. I have some thoughts and will share them here - but please let's discuss.
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Pandemics have been with us since the beginning of civilisation. The difference today, is the ease and speed of travel. Global travel is the number one risk area. The minimum response needed is:
  1. Tackle the disease at source in the affected West African countries.
  2. Invest heavily in finding a vaccine for Ebola.
  3. Conduct a public education programme.
All of these areas need to come together to provide an effective response to the disease if it’s not going to become a global pandemic.

Unfortunately, governments aren’t renowned for their speed of response to this type of issue. It's possible that we have already left it too late and will see the disease spread further in Europe and North America. A firm and fast response is needed. Travel bans from affected countries would be a good option. The disease would be contained and easier to tackle by concentrating resources in those countries. It's important to attack the disease at its source, and not just react to cases arriving in first world countries.

It’s worrying, but, hopefully, not too late.

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