32-year old Elsevier paper could have averted Ebola but Liberians would have had to pay to read it

I am very angry with the publishing industry.

Last week the NY Times reported that the Ministry of Health in Liberia had discovered a 30-year old paper that, if they had known about it, might have alerted Liberians to the possibility of Ebola. See a report in TechDirt (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150409/17514230608/dont-think-open-access-is-important-it-might-have-prevented-much-ebola-outbreak.shtml ) and also the article in the NY Times itself (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/opinion/yes-we-were-warned-about-ebola.html ). The paper itself (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0769261782800282 ) is in Science Direct and paywalled (31 USD for ca 1000 words (3.5 pages). I’ll write more on what the Liberians had to say and how they feel about the publishing industry and Western academia (they are incredibly restrained). But I’m not, and this makes me very angry .

This paper contains the words;

“The results seem to indicate that Liberia has to be included in the Ebola virus endemic zone.” In the future, the authors asserted, “medical personnel in Liberian health centers should be aware of the possibility that they may come across active cases and thus be prepared to avoid nosocomial epidemics,”

The Liberians argue that if they had known about this risk some of the effects of Ebola could have been prevented.

Suppose I’m a medical educational organization In Liberia and I wanted to distribute this paper to 50 centers in Liberia. I am forbidden to do this by Elsevier unless I pay 12 USD per 3-page reprint (from https://s100.copyright.com).


I adamantly maintain “Closed access means people die”.

This is self-evidently true to me, though I am still cricitized for not doing a scientific study (which would be necessarily unethical). But the Liberian Ministry is not impressed with academia and:

There is an adage in public health: “The road to inaction is paved with research papers.

We’ve paid 100 BILLION USD over the last 10 years to “publish” science and medicine. Ebola is a massive systems failure which I’ll analyze shortly.