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Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book Managing Managing the global health response to epidemics: Social science perspectives,
Publisher Routledge/Taylor and Francis, London
Page(s) 73 - 103
ISBN 9781138578999
Title of proceedings Managing Managing the global health response to epidemics: Social science perspectives,

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The management of the responses to both the A(H1N1) pandemic between 2009 and 2010 and the Ebola virus disease between 2014 and 2016 inspires a certain number of comparative reflections. This chapter seeks to propose a synthesis of the accounts of the actors that we met during the course of our investigation between 2013 and 2016. This summary will also be bolstered by the prolific documentation and the numerous publications that have accompanied the knowledge base of these two epidemics. In the first section, ways in which the narrative of these two epidemics has been influenced by earlier episodes of the flu pandemic and of the Ebola virus epidemics are presented. Anchored conventional wisdoms have unquestionably influenced the cognitive frames that shaped public health responses in both cases. In the second section, a characterization of the surprise effects that molded the response strategies in both crises is offered. Finally, in the last section the challenges faced by key global health actors, during both crises are detailed. The chapter contends that this comparison makes sense despite the massive differences between the two epidemics. Numerous controversies plagued both responses. Coordination failure, failure of foresight, power plays, group interests, complacency, difficulty in articulating expertise and political decisions, and many more factors played a role in the difficulties that responders faced. However, in retrospect, what could explain the most the magnitude of both crises has more to do with the unrealistic per - ception of how global health is organized than any of these factors that undoubtedly played their part.