On the bus: thinking about Ebola, again.

So I crossed the border the other day from Mali info Burkina. It’s a very simple border, quick and easy, no hassle. Except that right now, I think I would like a bit more hassle. I’d like to see the west African countries and international health organizations doing a lot more to contain the spread of Ebola.

There is NO public education on this. And if there is, it’s not getting out there. And there are absolutely zero screening measures in place. Zero. Do they think that the majority of west African people travel by airplane? Because they certainly do not.

For example, on this bus, I was seated next to a lovely Nigerian man. He was coming from Sierra Leone. Which means he was coming from an extreme hotspot, a country in an official state of emergency, passing through the disease-ridden origin nation of Guinea, and onward through Mali, Burkina, Benin, and finally to rest in Nigeria.

And what if he was sick? I’m not too concerned because he was in obvious good health at the time, and thus not contagious, but what if he develops some symptoms; a little bit of a flu, you think. Malaria, or typhoid; just the regular maladies that are common in this area. But what if it’s Ebola? What if he brings back an unintended souvenir and starts wiping out his community (which happens to be Lagos, a gigantic hub of people)?

You know what he asked me?

Now tell me, is Ebola actually real?

Actually real? ACTUALLY REAL?!

Yes, it’s real! And yes, it’s actually killing hundreds of people, regardless of race or profession or any other divisive quality. And it’s out of control.

Side note: I’m writing this in the midst of a typical west African downpour, but there is some very ominous thunder, which keeps crashing down as I talk about the impending doom of Ebola. Just saying.


So as usual, I did my best to equip him with all the information I could. Modes of transmission, cultural practices which perpetuate the infection, signs and symptoms, etc., while emphasizing heavily the importance of seeking medical attention at the first sign of illness. Because it’s really, really real.

Oh, now the power’s been cut. That’s not foreboding at all.

Just today, the executive director of MSF Canada has called for a mobilization of global resources to combat this disease. He illustrates the same difficulties in public awareness and a lack of support for their strained and exhausted staff.

Up until now, MSF has been among just a handful of organizations responding to the Ebola crisis on the ground. But our efforts are reaching a tipping point: We and our partners will soon be too overwhelmed to do any more, and we will no longer be able to respond to new cases.

A job on this scale requires a co-ordinated global response: It is the responsibility of the WHO to mobilize the necessary resources and to guarantee immediate impact on the ground.

Full article here.

The disease is spreading. Two Americans have just returned home after contracting the disease. My good friend Kyle has just told me that it’s in Saudi now too. As with most developing-world problems, it’s only once it comes home that we take notice, but let this be it’s homecoming. We need action, now.

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