I am no expert on Ebola, nor am I an epidemiologist, but two facts that I can state with confidence are that, first-and-foremost, Ebola is a devastating disease, and secondly, it does not discriminate who it affects based on race or nationality so finding a lasting cure quickly is in the best interest of us all.
It seems that the current strategy is not working thus far, as people continue to be affected, and I am sure we will never know the true numbers of people who have died.
However, what has really concerned me over recent weeks has been the scare mongering coming from numerous media outlets. Whether or not they have their own agendas, their narrow-minded and often bigoted views only serve to spread fear rather than helping the fight against this deadly disease in any way. These fears escalate out of control, and alarmingly, I have even heard suggestions from some people that stopping anybody with a West African passport from entering the USA should be a course of action.
As an African, this disease and how we fight it affects me in many ways. The economic devastation will be enormous in the most affected countries, with a ripple-effect across much of the continent that is only made worse by the sense of fear created by the media houses around the world. Many people have been displaced and livelihoods are being lost, which is already setting back progress in these countries by many years, and will continue to do so even after the disease is under control.
The social and emotional impact of the lives lost is much more difficult to quantify. Too many people are losing loved ones, including a close friend of mine who lost his mother so quickly he could not even say goodbye - when you see images of people on news reports it is sometimes easy to forget how every single death devastates a family.
Understanding the disease is the key, and the ways in which one catches Ebola are very well-elaborated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and many other world health organisations. However, the question I keep hearing is how can we be so slow to react to such a deadly enemy?
Reports on CNN last month showed a scientist who had developed an experimental drug for Ebola that had been successfully used on a British nurse who had contracted the disease while volunteering in Sierra Leone, and the other two US missionaries. This begs the question, is the cure already there, and are pharmaceutical companies simply holding back because suffering countries in Africa are less commercially attractive at best, and financially unviable at worst?
The delay in reacting is causing anger and frustration in West Africa and around the world, but name-calling and blaming various organisations is not going to solve the Ebola crisis. In my opinion, what is going to make a difference is absolutely commitment to the issue and availing resources and people, which may include bringing together scientists who are already working on drugs and cure. Africans may not have the money to pay for these drugs, but we're now seeing how in today's small world disease can go from one world end to the other in 24hrs.
I am passionate about a lot of African issues, but to be perfectly honest, I was not planning to write about Ebola in my blog. However, I recently witnessed something on a London bus that made me so angry I just had to speak out.
A West African guy was on the phone in one of the seats in front of me, telling whoever he was speaking to that he had just comeback from a holiday with his family. Seconds later, the lady sitting next to him moved seats. After a couple of stops the West African guy got off the bus and we travelled for a few minutes before the lady's phone rang, and in a lowered voice she said to the caller, "This Ebola is going to hit us hard soon. I was sitting with one guy who said was coming back from Africa - who knows if he came back with this Ebola thing!"
This was just one person, who was unaware I was watching what happening, but after reading news headlines I wonder how many people will soon be judging every African they see?
Ebola is not just an African problem. Please, let's all stand up and join the fight against Ebola, and say no to the demonising of those people who just happen to come from the countries in which the Ebola outbreak is still raging.Suggest a correction