[M]ost of us are keeping our eyes on the US’s first official Ebola patient, a man in Dallas who arrived here from Liberia via airline, and then began to show signs and symptoms of the disease, only to be sent home by a Dallas hospital (despite the man and his family reporting to the registration clerk that he had just arrived from Liberia, a well known Ebola Hot Zone). That man, Thomas Eric Duncan, is now in serious but stable condition in that same Dallas hospital after he developed severe symptoms and returned three days later (and after exposing as many as 100 people to the disease).
However, as our western press is filled with images and headlines about Duncan’s story and the CDC reaction (including what to do with Duncan’s bed clothes that as of the last report were still in his home), a very important meeting is taking place in London. Here, African leaders, world health officials, and at least 34 NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are deciding how to keep Ebola from spreading beyond Western Africa.
As part of that meeting, Sanjayan Srikanthan read aloud a letter written and signed by the 34 NGOs that led with this statement
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis in West Africa. Infection rates are growing exponentially – the number of cases is doubling roughly every three weeks. In Sierra Leone the situation is critical: Ebola has spread throughout the country, infecting at least 2,300 people that we know of; the real number is probably much higher. Many health centres and hospitals have closed and those that are still open are full to capacity, with sick people being turned away.
The international community has a window of opportunity over the next four weeks to stop the crisis from spreading completely out of control. To do so, we must support national authorities, health workers, humanitarian agencies and community groups to break transmission rates and halt the exponential increase in cases.
The story in Western Africa is heartbreaking, and the cost of Ebola goes well beyond the obvious. Schools have closed, many children are now orphaned, businesses stand idle and empty, and transportation has become difficult or impossible. Quarantined areas suffer from lack of nutrition, water, healthcare–as if they have been left to die.
I read a report this afternoon that mentioned a plan to build a 1000 or more care facilities, basically shacks to protect those who are dying from the elements and (I believe) to isolate the sick from the healthy. That is what is coming to the United States if Ebola breaks out here. Are you ready? If you know Christ, then you can face any challenge with His strength and His love.
Accept Him today. Tomorrow is promised to no one, but the one looming before our world is very dark and very dangerous.
You can read the entire Joint NGO Statement here via Joint NGO statement International Conference: Effective International Response to Defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone | International Rescue Committee (IRC).