Last July, as the Ebola crisis in West Africa grabbed the world’s attention, fear gripped and paralyzed many leaders. The concern about Ebola’s spread reached all the way to North America, where several medical missionaries received treatment, and even American hospital workers became infected by a traveler coming into the country.
One year later, scientists are still tallying the results. The Ebola outbreak apparently started when a bat infected a 2-year-old child in December 2013, according to Nature, the International Journal of Science (June 17, 2015). Soon, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were battling a near pandemic as Ebola infected more than 27,000 people and claimed 11,134 lives.
As the world approaches the first anniversary of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, we must ask what efforts would avert a repeat of this tragedy.
Heroic efforts by government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and ministry entities temporarily abated Ebola’s devastating spread in Liberia. In Sierra Leone, the new cases had just about bottomed out, however, there are reports that the numbers are starting to increase again. Ebola cases are still occurring in Guinea.
The Ebola response severely crippled the healthcare infrastructures of these three West African countries. Efforts are underway to rebuild many of those facilities, but they will take time and money. Newsweek reported last November that Ebola had infected more than 500 healthcare workers, with nearly 300 dying. During the height of the response, officials estimated a need for 5,000 additional workers. Clearly, the need for healthcare workers remains high, and West Africa needs those workers now.
Besides Ebola, many parts of Africa continually battle malaria, a disease that modern medicine has failed to eradicate. Malaria patients have hesitated to seek help, fearing that going to the hospital would expose them to Ebola.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Wayne Pederson is president of Reach Beyond, an international mission agency based in Colorado Springs, Colo., that uses media, medical technology and mentoring to minister in countries around the world.