By Regan King
Though you might not have heard, there are no longer any cases of Ebola in the U.S.. On Nov. 11 Ebola survivor Dr. Craig Spencer was released from the hospital and the number of domestic cases is back down to zero. With the dramatic drop in news coverage it would seem that the Ebola crisis is over. This however is far from the truth.
Though many news outlets are less inclined to cover it, there is still a major Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As of Dec. 4, Ebola has infected more than 17,000 people and killed at least 6,000 of them. Many experts think this is an underestimation; cases go unreported because healthcare centers have to turn people away and bodies are buried by families without being tested.
The countries where the outbreaks are strongest lack hospitals and medical equipment. Most healthcare centers don’t have the proper protective equipment for their staff and if they do, they haven’t been trained to use it. Governments and assistance agencies are working to build and stock better healthcare centers, but the biggest problem will be staffing them. These countries have few medical professionals and these new centers need hundreds.
With Ebola’s high rate of infecting healthcare workers many people wonder what will be left after the outbreak is controlled. There are approximately 98 nurses for every 10,000 patients in the U.S. Right now there are three nurses per 10,000 patients in Liberia and in Sierra Leone there are only two. There’s no telling what kind of healthcare system will survive this.
The problems don’t stop once a person has survived Ebola either. In countries were Ebola is not well understood, many survivors are turned away and shunned from their homes. And as the Ebola outbreak trudges on, international attention wanes. There definitely has been tremendous support from the worldwide community and the U.S. has been a leading contributor, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what these countries need.
There are many ways we all can get involved. Monetary donations are always helpful; places like Doctors Without Borders and Save The Children are working on the frontlines of the outbreak. President Obama continually asks congress for Ebola funding. You can always contact your congress member and encourage them to support these measures. Most importantly you can spread the word. We want to forget that there’s people dying on the other side of the world. It’s sad and it’s scary and we often feel like there’s nothing we can do, but ignoring this disaster won’t help stop it. Don’t let us forget. Find the people that are covering the outbreak and spread their information. We can all help shine a light on what is really happening.
It is amazing that the Ebola cases in the U.S. have been controlled. The survivors of this disease show that we can stop it. But we cannot forget that there are still mothers and sons and husbands and daughters and friends and families dying in other parts of the world. Though the outbreak is no longer in our backyard, it’s still in our neighborhood and we shouldn’t stop fighting until everyone is safe.