One of the cruelties of Ebola is that is goes against the very core of our human nature, the instinct to care for others. Like the NPR Story about the infant, still young enough to nurse, left in a box at the clinic where her mother had just died from Ebola. The baby had tested negative so far, so of course the group of nurses took turns caring for the baby. How could you not? Ultimately the baby became sick and died, as did most of the caregivers, the nurses.
Tragic stories like this have been playing out in West Africa for far to long. Ebola is stoppable. We have seen it done. We need to get it done. Nigeria serves as a great example where a swift local response with in place medical, and vaccine infrastructure helped to halt the spread. Due to a concerted effort and funding to eradicate Polio from the region, Nigeria already had the necessary health care infrastructure to be able to contain and manage the Ebola outbreak when it hit. According to Dr. Chris Elias, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, previously done modeling studies based on experience with where and how Polio spread in the country, risk areas for Ebola were readily identifiable. Meanwhile countries with weak health care systems were vulnerable to the outbreak. Frontline healthcare workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have been tirelessly devoting themselves to the crisis from the beginning, but thousands of lives could have been saved if the world responded more quickly with the necessary funds and medical resources critical to reduce the spread.
“every day we continue to wait – for funding to reach the ground, for nurses and doctors to be deployed, for the shattered medical services to be rebuilt – more people die.”- ONECampaign
What we know is that though it’s lethal, the Ebola virus is relatively short-lived as viruses go, and transmittable only through contact with infected bodily fluids. This means that although it can be spread quickly, once contained, the number of new infections come down quickly as well. Liberia has been the hardest hit country with an estimated 3,000 deaths from the disease, but according to the World Health Organization we are beginning to see the number of cases there decline. Girls and women have been disproportionately impacted since traditionally they are the caretakers in their communities as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf explained via video feed to attendees of the ONE Girls and Women AYA Summit several weeks ago. According to a story in the Associated Press by Jonathan Paye-Layleh on ABC news today she has set a goal of Liberia being Ebola free by December 25th by doubling their efforts.
World leaders need to commit the resources to get it done. Our best chance to #EndEbola is if the world is #UnitedAgainsEbola. Two organizations working towards that very goal released videos last week to highlight this point.
You can Find out here if the countries that have made promises to Ebola have delivered to help #ENDEBOLA.
Africa Responds focuses on how African countries are #UnitedAgainstEbola and how local organizations have been working on the ground since the beginning of the crisis to get help to those who need it.
It is our human nature to care for others, and you can do just that through donations to help get the resources where they need to go, or by using your voice and signing the petition to let government leaders know you care. What the world can not afford to do is sit by any longer and do nothing. We can #EndEbola when we become #UnitedAgainsEbola. Let’s get it done!
During UN General Assembly week in September I attended a roundtable on the Ebola crisis with ONE Campaign, The Gates Foundation, and Save The Children. In October at the One Girls and Women AYA Summit a discussion with a panel of experts on Ebola including a physician from the front lines in Liberia accompanied the video address by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.