It's been less than a year since the dreaded Ebola virus appeared on North American soil. In a matter of a few weeks, the virus went from being someone else's problem to a homeland threat. In the process, media headlines captured the attention of millions and struck fear into most of them. But Fearbola, as it was coined, was completely unnecessary. Last week, a report came out detailing exactly how the public responded to the Ebola crisis in the United States.
TORONTO - A patient who was admitted to Toronto's Sunnybrook hospital with symptoms consistent with the Ebola virus has tested
Ebola has infected nearly 24,000 people and killed almost 10,000, mainly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. However, the impacts of Ebola extend far beyond the borders of the worst-affected countries. G7 Foreign Ministers should champion a rigorous approach to go beyond reducing transmission, to stopping the disease completely, to enabling societies to manage the consequences of the outbreak, and to preventing future outbreaks.
Today, Ebola continues to hit hardest in Sierra Leone, which reported 337 new cases in the last week of December, more than double those in Guinea and Liberia combined. In Sierra Leone, which already had the world's highest maternal mortality ratio and the fourth highest infant mortality rate, the impact of Ebola on children is huge and under-reported; and orphans remain the forgotten victims of the crisis.
Even when Ebola is finally contained, the reality is thousands of people will continue to face hunger and malnutrition leading to death for months, if not years. While they won't succumb to the disease itself, they'll still experience hunger because of the effects of an Ebola epidemic.
Six years beyond the onset of global crisis and the lamentation seems louder: pundits are increasingly perplexed by the planet's prolonged period of perpetual perturbations. So, does anything stand out in 2014 as an "out of the blue" development?
Despite a major scaling-up of efforts by the Government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations, the United Kingdom, donors and
Providing effective communication is critical to ensuring health care workers feel informed and safe at work. Nursing union representatives have clearly expressed that nurses do not feel prepared for Ebola in their hospitals. Media stories have documented how personal protective equipment and training for front line health workers hasn't been available in all hospital locations across the country.
I feel so encouraged that radio is providing comfort to children in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. In partnership with the country's government, World Vision is helping children continue their schooling by broadcasting educational programs for kids hunkered down at home.
The extent of the infection of the public mindset inevitably rises towards the apex of a full-blown panic. At this point, the reaction is given a name as if it has become its own threat. In this case, the word was an almost too perfect mix of the reaction and the cause: Fearbola. But as seen in the last week, once the apex has been reached, there is no other direction to go than down back towards calm.