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Abstract

The Ebola virus and its now infamous 2014 West African outbreak have constituted the deadliest and most terrifying epidemic of recent memory. Not only does the epidemic now carry an already ghastly backdrop in the public mind when discussions around it begin, but, like the AIDS epidemic, cultural practices have contributed to the entrenchment of Ebola in Africa, compounded by weak human rights laws and stigmatization, all of these factors having contributed to the multi-faceted and complex nature of addressing the problem of eliminating this disease in Africa. This article examines the African countries that have been plagued by the recent outbreak, as well as the U.S. response to Ebola when brought to its shores. It also considers the human rights implications that are invariably intertwined with the prevention of Ebola, as well as the various ethical aspects that have surrounded the response. The article further examines the possible extent to which sub-Saharan African states may be able to leverage the flexibility of the so called Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS”) to provide access to Ebola medical advances for their citizens. Lastly, this article will look at the Siracusa Principles, which outlines the circumstances within which restriction of human rights are justified, and will analyze the conduct of international responders, including the African Union, the CDC, WHO, and others.

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