Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keeping Up the Daily Ebola Challenge

The Fight Against Ebola Getting
Big Time Boost 
Before the Ebola virus crossed the Atlantic, many health experts and some of us were worried that it would just be a brief cable news item that would occupy the world's attention span until the next big event. Our cash strapped and unprepared West African governments would then be left to deal with the deadly crisis with the help of a few volunteer organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Samaritan's Purse and some volunteer religious medical missions. We were afraid that ISIS or Boko Haram would do something crazy and the world would forget about Ebola.
Raising Awareness in

Many of us have in various ways tried to call the world's attention to this deadly plague, this Ebola virus. However, with the first reported case in America and subsequent infection of two unfortunate nurses, and a situation that is now on the verge of getting out of control in our poorly equipped countries, the world is now responding in very positive ways.

Just the past week we learnt of British plans to deploy over 750 emergency military medical personnel to build about 5 Ebola centers in Sierra Leone with a capacity of approximately 700 beds. These centers would provide facilities to treat approximately 8000 cases in 6 months if the number of patients continue to grow at the current rate. Yesterday, we heard that the British were now going to deploy about 3000 troops to support a medical response in Sierra Leone.  If that is true, it would rival America's 3000 troops Ebola mission to Liberia. These resources, combined with the effort of the Cubans, the Chinese and local health officials will hopefully put a brake on the rapid spread of the disease around our home countries.

The last few weeks, reports from Sierra Leone have painted a grim picture of hopelessness. Families with Ebola patients were being turned away from treatment facilities because of the lack of beds. Suspected Ebola corpses were lying for days on the streets before they were picked up by burial teams. Families reporting suspected cases or corpses in their homes were met with slow response from medical teams, if they came at all. All these incidents had a very great likelihood of contributing to the increased proliferation of the disease in already hard hit areas. In Freetown the capital of Sierra Leone, it was particularly disheartening to see groups of youths in various areas blocking their neighborhoods to vehicular traffic until corpses lying in the streets were cleared. The fear was palpable, the chaos was almost predictable

"This is truly hell on earth," was the remark made by a colleague of mine when he watched a painful CNN report on the chaos that Ebola had created in Liberia. That particular scene could have been Sierra Leone, as similar situations occur on an hourly basis all around the two sister countries. Even Koinadugu, the last district that had remained free of Ebola in Sierra Leone has now reported some cases of infection. Koinadugu had even been featured in an American Newspaper as being free of Ebola largely due to the effort of one indigene of the district, a Momoh Konte. Some local people on the ground have however dismissed his claims as bogus and mere attention seeking.
Day 5 of Ebola Challenge 

In a desire to use social media to keep raising awareness of the virus and its implications, I started a daily 4 mile Ebola challenge to raise awareness and ask for assistance.

The four mile Ebola challenge is simply a desire to run four miles everyday until Ebola is eradicated from Sierra Leone and hopefully, from Liberia and Guinea too. Yesterday Sunday was day five of the challenge and I ran 6.8 miles. On Saturday the Ebola challenge got a big boost when the Member of Parliament for Constituency 7 in the Kailuhun district, Sierra Leone, Hon. Abu Jajua, also did a 5 mile run which he dedicated to the fight against Ebola. MP Jajua is one of the members of Parliament in Sierra Leone who took the Ebola virus disease very seriously even before it reached his constituency. Due to extensive education and infection control measures, there has been no reported case of Ebola in MP Jajua's constituency for close to two months. Overall the constituency has had very few cases of Ebola.
Hon Abu Jajua after
5 Mile Run 

In order for everyone to get on board with raising awareness, we are calling on Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora and everywhere to join the Ebola run. It does not have to be four miles. It can be a mile or two or even 500 meters. All we are appealing for is for people to do a challenge to help raise awareness and seek a cure for Ebola. Please post your challenge on social media for the whole world to know that we as Sierra Leoneans are asking them to help our people and put a stop to this devastating disease.
When people turn on the TV and think what they see as hell on earth, what we see is trouble in our own little paradise. Sierra Leone is our home. It was the country that nurtured us and made us who we are. All those young health care workers dying needlessly from this plague are our brothers, sisters, cousins and friends. We did not wish Ebola on our countries. This is not a diseases you will wish on even your worst enemy. However, Ebola in West Africa is now a reality and all we can do is raise awareness and call on others to help.

We are particularly grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg of Facebook for contributing 25 million towards the fight against Ebola. We hope this will motivate other individuals to do more to help. In our own little ways as West African we have being helping through organizations and as individuals to help fight this plague. We have gathered PPEs and sent small monies back home. Hopefully this disease would soon be a sad chapter in a history book on our shelves. As at now, all we can do is thank those who are on the ground helping and implore those who have the capacity to join the fight now.

Ebola is here and no one is immune. Join the fight, help save lives.

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