What Should We Do About Ebola?

You have probably noticed how Ebola has slipped from the headlines in the West. We are currently more interested in IS, Russia and the spectre of another recession. It doesn’t mean Ebola has gone away, or that we are any less involved in terms of money and personnel, but our perception of the immediacy of the crisis has somehow lessened. Unless or until another person with Ebola is hospitalised in the West, we shall continue to think of the virus as something that affects people ‘over there’ — and our thinking about how to help will follow suit.

There have been sobering reports that Western aid is missing the mark. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberia’s Chief of Development, is on record as saying neighbours and relatives are struggling to care for thousands of Ebola orphans while Western aid workers enjoy a lavish lifestyle and spend money on projects that are of little benefit. That kind of statement feeds into a very Western fear that aid agencies and charities do not always use the money given to them wisely or even appropriately. On the whole, if I may be permitted a very large generalisation, the religiously-inspired charities seem to do a better job than most, but still there is anxiety. How do we help? How do we ensure that money given to aid people suffering so greatly actually does what we intend? What should we do? I have no answers, but part of me thinks the very Benedictine approach of listening to the community might be a good starting-point. We may think building another treatment centre is the priority (and heaven knows, they are needed!) but for those who have been orphaned, or who have lost children on whom they depend for support, the need for food, shelter and companionship is just as urgent. It may not seem as urgent to us, but there is a future beyond Ebola we must think about and work to protect.


4 thoughts on “What Should We Do About Ebola?”

  1. A recent appeal in our parish for CAFOD (the Catholic Fund For Overseas Development) for the Ebola crisis raised comparatively little from our normally generous parishioners. However, it is quite possible that our cheque made payable to CAFOD was not included in the total. If it had been, they were even less generous than I had hoped.
    One aspect of Ebola was that the need to avoid touching people meant that other serious, but treatable conditions such as malaria were not being correctly identified and treated.
    A serious issue for orphans is that anyone who adopts them often does not have the ability to feed and educate them which makes future employability a factor.
    One of my personal efforts has been to fund HIV/Aids orphans, through local clergy, by helping them with crop growing. A few years later they have their own families and are building their own homes and sending their children to school.

  2. Ebola is such a dreadful thing, I pray that it will follow the pattern it always has in the past and go dormant very soon. Better still a cure, treatment is found or it will disappear forever !!

    Here is food for thought though; unlike Ebola, hospital acquired infection is a man created situation. The symptoms before death are horrific and include bloody diarrhoea 10 to 15 some times a day for weeks (C Difficile), or someone’s body parts being eaten by an antibiotic resistant infection as doctors desperately try to chop them off before the infection spreads (MRSA) and other horrible infections rise up. People have to be isolated at an enormous cost to the NHS (us), but sadly before the infection has been identified they have often been moved from ward to ward for purposes of bed management . Often, the infection deaths are recorded because of the secondary complications not the acquired infection, in order to avoid any special measures that will be placed on the hospital. All of this is happening under our noses, people are suffering untold misery, families are suffering because often people get ill when they visit relatives, medical staff suffer illness and loss of wage too………. The suffering is endless. I say all of this without mentioning the suffering of those who will be left permanently disabled with all the related costs. The answer is seen just in politics, not in hygiene, compassion, love, morality and so forth.

    So, again this year over 100,000 will become dreadfully ill, 5,000 recorded deaths will happen under our own noses in the most horrific and barbaric way and countless others will be added to that figure under the guise of another cause. And all is silent 🙁

    I will let the Government themselves tell us the facts.

    “Hospital acquired infections are those that are neither present nor incubating when a patient enters hospital. Their effects vary from discomfort for the patient, to prolonged or permanent disability and even death. This is a very serious subject in terms of the impact on patients and costs to the National Health Service. The best estimates we have suggest that each year there are at least 100,000 cases of hospital acquired infection in England causing around 5,000 deaths, and the cost to the NHS may be as much as £1 billion a year. ” (42nd Report of the UK Parliment http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmpubacc/306/30603.htm)

  3. Another problem with transmission is the local traditions associated with death and dying. Washing of the body by loved ones, laying on of hands, sitting with the body until burial are just a few that have been mentioned. But how difficult it is on a family and community to NOT be able to say your farewells. It has led to families hiding the sick and the dead to up hold tradition. Understanding those important community values could lead to ways that health officials could help those affected adapt safe handling practices which honor tradition yet protect the living.

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