With the world’s first Ebola vaccine just approved in Europe, the world’s biggest global health crisis doesn’t have to be. But it’s important that Americans understand that Ebola is not just an African problem. The virus still has the potential to bring devastation on a massive scale, unless we work together with communities within Africa to ensure that people don’t just have access to the vaccine, but are educated about how to contain the spread of the disease.
There were over 2,000 deaths since Ebola reemerged in the DRC last year. Rwanda closed its border with the DRC after cases of the virus were confirmed, but Ebola spreads quickly, and dangerously. By June, it had spread to Uganda.
Between 2014 and 2016, Ebola took 11,000 lives and infected 28,000 people in West Africa. The U.S. watched with bated breath as American doctor Kent Brantly, infected in Liberia in 2014, narrowly escaped death by being airlifted to a U.S. hospital.
Most aren’t so lucky. Ebola is a rare and highly infectious virus, with a variable death rate that averages around two-thirds but according to the WHO can be up to 90%. It leads to heavy internal bleeding and causes cells to explode throughout the body.
But Ebola is not just Africa’s problem. Although the virus has only emerged in Africa thus far, it is positioned to be the global health crisis of the next decade, and it has the potential to bring devastation on a massive scale.
As the most well-resourced country in the world, the United States has not only the ability but the imperative to extend aid to those suffering overseas. Compassion calls us to bring our expertise and resources to those exposed to Ebola in Africa, but it is also a matter of national and self-interest. This is not an “us vs. them” scenario. In today’s increasingly interconnected global society, the flow of people – and diseases – between countries is more commonplace than ever before.
The Ebola crisis is not dissimilar to the HIV/AIDs crisis in that education and safe health practices are key to stopping transmission of this deadly disease. Like HIV, Ebola is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. Informing families with basic information of how the disease is spread can prevent the spread of the disease among those who are often protect and care for one another.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Scott Arbeiter