Book chapter
Open access

Comparing the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic and 2014 Ebola virus disease of viruses, surprises in outbreak responses and global health work

ContributorsBourrier, Mathilde
Published inManaging the global health response to epidemics, Editors Bourrier, Mathilde; Brender, Nathalie; Burton-Jeangros, Claudine, p. 73-103
PublisherLondon, New York : Routledge/Taylor and Francis
Publication date2019

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 perception of how global health is organized than any of these factors that undoubtedly played their part.

  • A(H1N1)
  • Ebola
  • Social Sciences
  • Global Health
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 100017—146546
Citation (ISO format)
BOURRIER, Mathilde. Comparing the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic and 2014 Ebola virus disease of viruses, surprises in outbreak responses and global health work. In: Managing the global health response to epidemics. London, New York : Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2019. p. 73–103.
Main files (1)
Book chapter (Accepted version)
  • PID : unige:131623

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