Time and location

Wednesday, 11 February 2015, 19:00 - 21:00
Diplomatic Academy, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna


Fatou Francesca Mbow (via skype)
doctor and health consultant, Dakar

Stefan Seebacher
doctor, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva/Nüziders

Mario Thaler
Doctors without Borders, Vienna

Monika Kalcsics
journalist, ORF/Ö1, Vienna

Welcome: Franz Schmidjell, VIDC

Languages: German and English with simultanious translation

Please register: schmidjell@vidc.org

Ebola: The Political Dimensions of an Epidemic

© iStock.com/bumbasor
© iStock.com/bumbasor


In December 2013 the first Ebola infections emerged in the city Guéckedou in Guinea. In March 2014 teams from the Ministry of Health and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) visited the city, which lies on the border near Sierra Leone and Liberia. The World Health Organization (WHO) was informed about the Ebola outbreak, and months went by. It wasn’t until July that the President of Sierra Leone spoke publically about the Ebola Crisis. The WHO called the epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on August 8th; over 700 people had already died, and thousands had been diagnosed. When the first Ebola cases were discovered in the USA and Europe the world reacted, but critics say this reaction was too little, too late. At the beginning of 2015 the WHO count had reached 8,000 dead and over 20,000 infected with Ebola.
Since the world financial crisis, the budget of the WHO has decreased by 20 percent. Several disease control divisions have had to be closed. In the Ebola-infested countries the health infrastructures have been weakened by civil wars and fiscal reform programs. Hospitals lack quarantine stations; there is no functioning disease control. “We were not prepared for this Ebola scourge“, confessed Dr. Abubakar Fofana, Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation.
Does this establish a political liability for the magnitude of the Ebola epidemic? Why, 40 years after the first case of Ebola, is there still no vaccine or medication for treatment? What effect does the Ebola crisis have on the social and political lives of the affected countries? Which measures need to be taken in the region now?


Fatou Francesca Mbow

is a doctor and health consultant from Senegal. She studied medicine at the Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Coure in Italy. This was followed by post-graduate training at the Royal Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and at the Royal Institute of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom. Dr. Mbow works as a consultant for various international and regional health organizations in Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Chad. In 2014 she worked for the WHO and Save the Children International in Guinea. A central theme of her work has been health care in conflict regions. Dr. Mbow lives in Dakar, Senegal.

Stefan Seebacher

is a doctor and was the head of the Health Department at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva from 2009 until 2014. Dr. Seebacher studied medicine in Innsbruck. He holds a Master’s of Public Health from John Hopkins University and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the Bernhard Nocht Institute in Hamburg. Since 1992 Seebacher has been active in the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, as a consultant for the Austrian Red Cross and as regional head of the health teams in Southeast Asia and East Asia, among other functions. Dr. Seebacher is considered one of the most renowned international consultants in the Public Health Sector. He has lived in Nüziders, Vorarlberg, Austria since October 2014.

Mario Thaler

has been the managing director of Doctors Without Borders Austria since 2011. He studied International Economics with a focus on human development in Innsbruck. The Erasmus Programme led him to study at the Universidad de Oviedo. In his master's thesis he wrote about “The Inter-American Development Bank's Support of Women in Development in Latin America”. Between 2004 and 2007 he worked as project coordinator in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad, Pakistan, as well as in Bogota, Columbia. From 2009 to 2011 he led the Doctors Without Borders’ Finance and Administration Department.

Monika Kalcsics

lives as a freelance journalist in Vienna. She works for the radio station Ö1 as a producer of reporting and documentation, and as a moderator and director. In 2007 she founded the production firm “name>it: positive media”, which focuses on the portrayal of under-represented themes in the media. In addition to her journalist activities, Monika Kalcsics is an emergency aid worker for Caritas, most recently during the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan in 2010. In 2011 she received the APA’s Alfred Geiringer Scholarship, which allowed her to study at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford. There she published a paper titled, “A reporting disaster? The interdependence of media and aid agencies in a competitive compassion market”.