Sunday, August 3, 2014

Looking for more information about the West Africa Ebola crisis

It's been hard to find good reporting about the West Africa Ebola crisis, at least here in the states.

Most of the coverage has involved the Dr. Kent Brantly story, which is certainly a compelling story, but there is much more I'd like to know.

I've found a few good articles, though.

A detailed article carried by ABC News helps in explaining why it is so hard to combat the epidemic: Ebola Outbreak Feeds on Fear, Anger, Rumors

Many health care workers and aid workers have said one cause for the rapid spread of the Ebola virus is the public's general mistrust of the government. Among the rumors about this disease:
  • Ebola does not exist and government workers are using it as an excuse to steal organs to sell on the black market.
  • The government is pretending Liberia has Ebola so they'll have an opportunity to receive and then abuse donated funds.
  • If a person goes to the hospital with a disease that has symptoms that mirror those of Ebola, such as malaria, that person will end up getting Ebola from the hospital.
  • Medical staffers are so afraid to catch Ebola, they neglect patients in the quarantine unit and let them starve to death.
  • Because of the noxious fumes that come from the solution workers use to spray affected areas, some people believe the spray is meant to kill them, and they don't want workers to come into their communities.
Rumors such as the ones listed above overshadow the work done by the overextended aid workers and local medical professionals who risk their lives on the front lines of the battle against Ebola. Fear and mistrust has caused some community members to sometimes react violently to the arrival of medical professionals in their communities.

On the NPR site, transcripts of two interesting interviews:

  • Fear, Caution As Doctors Fight Ebola On The Ground
    SAYAH: We need more people. We need more actors to be involved in educating the population, the communities, sensitizing them about the fact that the key to resolving this is that people come and get treated and not hide their sick and not have secret burials. We have a lot of work ahead. It's now in three countries in multiple sites. We've never seen it before. Doctors Without Borders has stretched its capacity to respond. We're doing the best we can but I think many more actors need to be mobilized.
  • Sierra Leone, Struggling With Ebola, Passes On Africa Summit
    FOFANA: Well, it has been difficult because it's never been here before. And health workers were not prepared for Ebola when eventually it did emerge. And lots of the health workers have died in all three countries. About in the region of 100 health workers have contracted the virus and at least half that number have died. We have been told by some nurses that the personal protective gear that they have been given is not good enough. They say the clothing is very thin, and they do not feel very much secure in them.
And the BBC has been doing some excellent reporting:
  • Living in the shadow of Ebola
    I spent an instructive couple of hours at the weekend with a woman from Finland. Eeva was once a midwife, but she's just finished a five-week stint with a Red Cross team that has been going door to door in Kailahun province, the border region where Ebola first arrived in Sierra Leone.

    She was on what's known as a sensitisation mission, explaining to people exactly how the virus spreads and how to avoid it.

    There are three simple rules, she told me.

  • Ebola outbreak: US experts to head to West Africa
    Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the new US measures in an interview with ABC's This Week.

    "We do know how to stop Ebola. It's old-fashioned plain and simple public health: find the patients, make sure they get treated, find their contacts, track them, educate people, do infection control in hospitals."

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