While the rest of the world has all but forgotten the Ebola outbreak, consigning it to the category of a crisis dealt with, the residents of West Africa haven’t. The spread of Ebola has been contained, but new infections are still taking place; more importantly, the aftermath of the outbreak is littered with problems that have gone under the radar of international attention.

Recently, Liberia’s president Ellen Jhonson-Sirleaf announced that children will be returning to school and soon borders with international countries will reopen. Liberia, once the epicentre of the disease, is returning to normalcy; only 10 people are under treatment and only one new case has been reported in the last few weeks. Despite this, in neighbouring countries Sierra Leone and Guinea, infection rates have been going up, with 35 and 65 new cases in the past three weeks respectively. Furthermore, the threat of infection breaking out in other places is still a possibility. The shifting of the international spotlight from the crisis does not mean that the health workers can lower standard practices and remove curfews, but it does mean they have less aid to work with than before.

The Ebola crisis demonstrated that countries have the capacity to coordinate a response to Ebola, but it also demonstrated the lack of a centralised response; with many organisations and countries sluggish in dealing with reports of Ebola, and indirectly contributing to its spread. International aid to West Africa follows a similar pattern; sufficient in amount, at $116 billion, yet most of it was pledged at the zenith, coming late when the disease had taken hold of several countries.  A centralised, quick response centre, which can initiate and coordinate health operations, will prevent future outbreak of disease from being this severe. The 24th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa last month decided to set up the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention by mid-2015, the success of which could be the biggest victory to come out of this deadly episode.

Right now there is a much more immediate problem to deal with; the virus has left behind victims of a different kind. Health workers are most vulnerable to the virus and rural African healthcare relies on familial care; in close knit tribes and villages, the disease has wiped out most adults, especially women, the primary health givers. Thousands of children have been left orphaned and now need assistance. The survivors of the virus aren’t spared either; they are shunned by their suspicions peers and have to suffer from long-term side effects such as joint pain and eye swelling. The crisis is on the decline but it isn’t over yet, our response needs to remember that.