|Thomas Eric Duncan|
|Ebola Airport Screening|
Following the Duncan Ebola scare, the US Centers for Disease Control has decided to take extraordinary measures to screen all passengers coming into the country from the Ebola infected West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. This increased monitoring of travelers will target the five airports through which 94% of travelers from West Africa enter the United States. The airports include New York's JFK International, Chicago's O' Hare International Airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International and New Jersey's Newark Liberty airport. Ebola screening started today Saturday October 11th at JFK and will expand to the other airports by Thursday. The screening process will involve temperature monitoring, assessing for visual signs such as bleeding, vomiting chills and nausea, and questions on health and Ebola exposure history. There have been calls mostly by conservative politicians and news outlets to ban all flights coming from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone into the United States. However, the CDC believes that such travel will be counterproductive to the concerted international effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in these countries.
|Liberia Ebola Training|
In Liberia, the government has in collaboration with the WHO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiated an innovative Ebola training program for the country's health care workers. Real Ebola survivors have been integrated into the training program to make it more realistic and effective. The goal is to train about 400 health care workers in Ebola management in order to staff the new Ebola treatment facilities that are being constructed around the country. The US military has deployed a substantial emergency response team to Liberia, but they are currently being slowed do by domestic supplies of needed construction equipment.
|Ebola Burial Team in Waterloo|
In Sierra Leone, Ebola burial teams in the capital downed their tools on Tuesday over nonpayment of their weekly wages and allowances. The members of the Ebola burial team had not been paid the previous Friday, due to what a government spokesman called bureaucratic delays. When questioned as to why they would decide to stop burying dead Ebola victims and clearly create a substantial public health hazard in the congested city of Freetown, a spokesman for the burial team said that they were doing their a hard job under very tough circumstances. Some of them, he said, had to keep their belonging to the burial team a secret from friends and relatives to avoid ostracization, as people were in mortal dread of members of the burial team. Some of those whose families members knew they were part of the burial team had been shunned and in some instances driven out of their own homes. Even in local food restaurants, they had to hide their identity otherwise people would not sell food to them. The spokesman said that they were doing an extremely dangerous job which nobody else wanted to do, and there was simply no excuse for them not to be receiving their pay as promised. The chairperson for the country's political parties Mohamed Bangura of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) who appeared on the scene to stage an intervention said that he understood the plight of members of the burial team and that there was simply no reason why they should not be paid, as he was aware that there was money available to pay them. He said that he would head straight to the President's office, believing that the nonpayment of the burial team's wages was the action of government saboteurs.
|Umaru Fofanah Sierra Leone-BBC|
"Outstanding reporter" NPR
On the Ebola infection front, this week was terribly bad for Sierra Leone, especially in the Western Area and the Northern Region of the country. On a single day Friday, Sierra Leone had 140 Ebola deaths, as reported by BBC's Umaru Fofana who has been described by America's National Public Radio (NPR) as the "most outstanding" reporter on the current Ebola infection in West Africa. As of Saturday, Sierra Leone had recorded a total cumulative number of 2700 diagnosed Ebola cases with a total of 904 deaths, 155 probable deaths and 97 suspected deaths. Umaru Fofanah who presents meticulous daily infection figures, has been noted by NPR for providing accurate reports free of sensationalism, unlike other reporters from reputable sources, many of who are reporting CDC worst case scenarios as Ebola news.
Before the three day lock down last month in Sierra Leone, many in the medical community were skeptical of the wisdom of keeping families huddled together in the same environment for three days, fearing that if there was an Ebola infected individual in one family, the probability of spreading the infection to other family members would be exponentially increased. After the lock down, a lot of people were quick to tout the success of the lock down. The Ebola teams had been able to discover over 50 dead individuals and take some suspected patients to treatment centers for monitoring. However, the fact that even in the absence of any infection, telling all 6 million Sierra Leoneans to stay at home for three days would result in finding approximately 50-100 deaths show the lack of statistical knowledge in the country, as a Sierra Leonean is born and another dies every hour in the country. After the initial euphoria about how successful the three day lock down was, the number of Ebola death in areas that were relatively Ebola free has now exponentially increased, somehow putting a severe dent in these initial claims of success. Even so there are reports that plans for an even longer shutdown are afoot.
|Cuban Health Team in Freetown|
Sierra Leone is now receiving substantial external assistance in combating the Ebola virus disease. Teams of Cuban, Chinese and British health and emergency workers are slowly deploying around the country complementing the effort of the country's overworked health care workers. Even though all the foreign teams are reporting to the Emergency Operations Center, many are complaining of the lack of effective coordination and centralized authority, as there are just too many independent government entities and individuals with no clearly defined channels of authority. Clear communication channels are vital in an emergency crisis. The Emergency Operations Center has a lot of visibility but currently lacks much political authority. The role of the EOC and that of the country's health ministry in a lot of areas areas remain conflicting and undefined, creating some ambiguity.
By Sheku Sheriff