NICHOLAS KRISTOF BLOG
Why Are We Ignoring a New Ebola Outbreak?
Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse cares for a patient at the case management center on the campus of ELWA Hospital in Monrovia.
By KEN ISAACS
July 24, 2014
Three small, impoverished nations in West Africa—Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—now demand the world’s attention as the deadly Ebola epidemic spins out of control, killing hundreds and threatening millions. Caused by a highly contagious virus, the disease starts with typical flu-like symptoms, yet most often leads to a horrific death in just a matter of days.
Since the outbreak started in early 2014, the World Health Organization reports 1048 people have contracted the disease, and over 600 have died. But since ministries of health in these three countries do not have the capacity to survey the disease and count the dead properly, many experts believe that the numbers are much higher.
To put this into context, in 32 years (1976-2008) the Ebola virus infected 2,232 people in remote village areas and killed 1,503. In a matter of months, this current outbreak has killed more than one-third as many people.
Doctors Without Borders is the only non-governmental organization working against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Guinea. The organization I work for, Samaritan’s Purse, has collaborated with the group in Liberia, but this outbreak is too much for us to take on by ourselves. We desperately need others to join this fight.
More direct medical care and emergency supplies are urgently needed. More importantly, there is a tremendous need for public awareness campaigns. Although there is no cure for Ebola, people can survive this terrifying disease, and we know mortality rates dramatically drop with early medical intervention.
Samaritan’s Purse staff distribute educational fliers providing important health information on Ebola viral disease. Many in Liberia remain in denial about the existence and spread of Ebola.
Our team recently treated Harrison, the first Ebola survivor in his own family, and in all of Liberia. Thankfully, he had friends who had been educated about the disease. They recognized the symptoms in him and got him prompt medical care. Without this early treatment, the odds are he would have died as his family did.
Of course, the best way to survive the disease is not to get it in the first place. Treatment after infection CLICK HERE