Ebola and African diaspora

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Just before my last write up on Ebola, it seemed the World was winning the fight against the deadly disease.in fact, some Countries claimed to have contained and had it under control. The prospects of cases erupting in UK, Europe or America seemed remotely impossible as the cases treated in these Countries are Nationals who are health care practitioners who had worked in affected African countries.

Here we are barely 6 weeks after and the world is in chaos as EVD is spreading like bush fire even as far as Australia. This sparked the initiation of several strategic meetings between world leaders with one US urging them to ‘take the deadly threat of Ebola as seriously as we take ISIS’.The UK government are even putting plans in place to start screening at the airport.

Back to Africa; where it all began and with more cases and victims dying at an alarming rate on a daily basis. The next part of this write up was included at the last minute when I received a link from a friend as I was about to send this in.

According to a report in Nigerian watch-it claimed that medical Experts from the US centre of Disease Control feared that “a recent Ebola trial vaccine used to treat patients only happen to be effective on white Caucasians” I believe it was referring to Zmapp. which have been used to successfully treat Expatriates

Doctors who contracted Ebola in Africa. The report(unconfirmed)the spokesman further said ‘Early tests of an experimental drug which would effectively combat the spread of Ebola have proved successful only in those with white skin. We are working diligently to improve the sample to be able to help all those who are in need’.

The fact is, whether this claim is true or not-the future is bleak for EVD victims in Africa. The recent statistics stands at about 7,000 infected cases and more than 3,000 deaths so far.

One of the devastating effects is that children who are orphaned through the disease are often abandoned by relatives for fear of being infected by them, even when they have tested negative. They are left to fend for themselves and probably will not seek or get help until too late so even the future of the next generation is in limbo. These children need physical,emotional and psychological care and support.Presently I am not sure what provision if any are put in place to cater for them.

Volunteers and NGOs are over stretched and overwhelmed by the rapid increase in cases and hardly enough resources to cope with situation. Shed loads of money are being pledged,donated and set aside purportedly to combat,prevent and cure the disease; but the impact is yet to be felt. My thoughts are that most of the resources should be focused on Publication education and awareness,training public health officers(as in the old days) equip and empower them to enforce compliance on prevention and control of infection measures. If we fail to change people’s mind set,perception,religious and cultural beliefs; we will ever win the fight against Ebola. One of the doctors working with Medicins San Frontieres- a wonderful organisation – I met the team two years ago when we went for surgical outreach in Liberia)was recently quoted in a magazine as saying’Ebola virus is not airborne. You catch it from those who you love and care about- by wiping their tears that contains the virus or their mouth when they are sick. It’s family intimacy and love that spreads it. That is why it is so deadly and so corrosive’ I agree with him. Recruiting HealthCare Workers in Diaspora to volunteer and help in Sierra Leone,Liberia and Guinea,fearing its potential to spread to surrounding countries is a tricky one for me and by no Means a criticism. I go out with a group on Surgical outreach and have worked in Liberia,Togo, Ghana ,Kenya and Nigeria,the next trip is to Ivory Coast. The main reason for the recruitment is shortage of personnel,but it will be interesting to know whether the local healthcare practitioners have been used to their full capacity,adequately equipped to safely carry out their duties and duly paid to reflect their worth. How about the implications of the local healthcare provider finding out how much a Nurse or paramedic from Diaspora will be paid re month for what they have been doing for a fraction of the amount. Trust me, I am speaking from experience- even as volunteers the reactions and attitude only change when we have taken time to explain that we are not being paid,we have taken annual leave and mostly self funded. That said,time is of essence and we all owe it to our fellow Africans to do what we can in combating this deadly disease. So why does the number of EVD victims keep rising in Africa at an alarming rate? The all important Religion and Cultural belief will be the concluding part to this. The recruitment drive for Healthcare Workers for Sierra Leone to help with the Ebola crisis roadshow will be in London and Manchester. More [email protected] or register at www.uk-med.org

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