Ebola - that highly feared gruesome and leper-looking disease, still ravaging and afflicting large swaths of Western Africa, is beatable. But in order to gain a final upper hand on the disease, funding is needed from international private and governmental institutions. Without adequate funding to shore up medical personnel, training, equipment and facilities, the Ebola battle could be lost. And while some people might erroneously categorized the disease as an African problem, what would they utter should the current battle not be won and infections start popping-up in their neck-of-the-woods? This current Ebola outbreak stands as a threat to global health security. More than 2,400 victims have died thus far.
Last month, before Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner and his team at the Elizabeth R. Foundation, took off to Nigeria on invitation to conduct a comprehensive capacity training program for health care workers as part of the efforts to combat Ebola in Nigeria, I asked the learned doctor whether or not this dreaded disease could be defeated. He was confident and he added that it would take a concerted private-public funding partnership to ensure full success. After Dr. Macgregor-Skinner and his team departed, I worried over the spread and the risk of the disease they went to confront. I paid no attention to the doctor's vision of the efforts needed to fight Ebola.
Then, earlier this week, when the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made a direct request to United States(US) President Barack Obama for funding to help defeat Ebola, the foresight of Dr. Macgregor-Skinner's early analysis to defeating Ebola was confirmed. In the letter from the African leader to President Obama as reported by both the BBC and the Associated Press(AP), she raised the alarm that: "Without more direct help from your government, we will lose this battle against Ebola." Liberia has asked for US help in building and operating at least one Ebola treatment center in Monrovia and the restoration of medical services at 10 non-Ebola hospitals.
The World Health Organization(WHO) has warned that upward of 20,000 people could become infected by this current Ebola outbreak. Liberia, which averaged one doctor per every 100,000 people of its 4.4 million population prior to the Ebola outbreak, has reported 2,046 virus cases thus far and of those, 1,224 have died. The fear that Ebola has cast over Western Africa is overwhelming. In Liberia alone, 10 government officials have fled overseas and despite ultimatums and warnings for weeks to return home, they have not, thus they were fired by the country's President on Saturday.
In Sierre Leone, another hard hit country by the Ebola virus, that country will take the draconian step of closing down the entire country for three days starting on September 19 in an attempt to isolate new cases of Ebola. Moreover, Sierre Leone, which has been denied funding by the WHO to air lift an Ebola infected local doctor to Germany for treatment this weekend, has already witnessed the death of three doctors from the Ebola virus. In Guinea, Sierre Leone and Liberia, as of September 7, as reported by the BBC, 301 health care workers had been infected by the Ebola virus, of which 144 have died.
A bright side to the fight against Ebola has been the commitment of the US government and agencies such as the Emily R. Griffin Foundation, Hospitals for Humanity and other groups to help in the health war. Also, the stated intent to return to Sierre Leone by Ebola cured British nurse, William Pooley, who was infected in Sierre Leone in August, flown home for treatment by the RAF, and survived. Wanting to get back to help in the fight against Ebola, Pooley has urged British prime Minister David Cameron to "take global leadership" in helping to improve hospital resources in the affected parts of Africa, the BBC reported. Cuba has also pledged 160 health workers to help in Sierre Leone.
Though Ebola rages, medical soldiers stand eagerly awaiting the medical arms through which funding could provide so that they could defeat this Ebola virus.