To win, it requires a lot of efforts especially in Africa, the origin of the virus, than the world’s pledge.
In September 1976 scientists received a thermos from Yumbuku, comprising of two samples of nun’s blood that became fatally ill while treating a patient. Scientists, then there in Antwerp speculated of nothing more than flu of some sort. Accidentally one of the samples broke, as the tube couldn’t sustain the cooling temperature. After scooping the other out of a pool of icy water, they discovered that they were dealing with a deadly and an unknown virus. To identify the source of the disease, a name was up in the department proposal. They named the virus after the local river Ebola.
In the last 36 years there were about 20 Ebola epidemics, each in a village or a town in Central Africa, claiming lives fewer than 300. Today’s situation tells us an entirely different story. Ebola struck down over three countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, covering a population of over 20 million. Almost 4,500 deaths have been recorded but the actual total is much larger. This epidemic is rampant and destroys communities everywhere, talking lives where it goes, as a shadow of death upon humanity. It has spread across African countries and nations like Spain and America too are affected.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) fears the epidemic will increase, causing up to 10,000 new victims a week by December, perhaps 70% of whom would die. “It is perhaps the most severe public health emergency in modern times, creating a danger of widespread in the world”, a true statement by its chief in a press conference. Now the world has responded, every effort has been made to stop the toll reaching hundreds of thousands if not millions. That is only possible with the combined effort from international organisations and among nation, round the globe. Yet the collaboration is something that is missing.
It is Worse than it Looks
Like any other epidemic, Ebola is best, if prevented early. It kills health care personnel by exposing them to its patients, and passes on from one healthy host to another. The number of infections are increasing in every our weeks. As health care personnel fall il and infection growing exponentially, failing all th defence mankind has towards the disease.
However this time, the response is slow but no doubt fatal. Surprisingly Ebola epidemic was never see in parts of Africa, hence identifying the source of this disease is comparable to finding a pin in a hay stag. The disease also passed on through urbanisation and transport shuttling the virus from villages, towns, cities and then to unaffected nations.
It is absolute necessary to stop this epidemic before it becomes a threat to the sole existence of mankind. The effort now should incorporate measures defending against the Ebola spread. However the disease poses slightly risk in rich countries as tracing, diagnosing and scattering such cases, under the microscope of health care mechanism, in these nations. Officials are preventing this disease from entering the nation by scanning travellers but this does not only mean an unhealthy only incumbent Ebola.
None the less quarantining the entire West Africa would be wrong and poses more danger, than it already is. Borders would be permeable and people would flee by paying bribes. As the virus conquered the West Africa more untraceable cases into healthy host in uninfected regions came into limelight. Now a question arises, when the epidemic spread would we then slam the door on Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Dhaka, Or Mumbai?
The best possible way is to provide safe vigilance outside West Africa and drain the reservoir of infection within. As the disease kills fast and spreads only through direct contact with the body fluids, patients. Hence if you reduce that ratio, epidemic is slow. Science can help, an indeed with the growing cooperation from countries in battling the disease via instant medical kits, health care centres, medical staff. Workers can isolate the disease before entering in medical centres and hence can identify the patents and the cause. Eventually, new vaccines would offer protection to the general public but it will take time for mass population. Instead medicines should be first given to the medical staffs who act as first responders towards the patient’s life before theirs in line of duty. Although serum and other anti viral infections from medicines are promising, more could be done to get it to patients first. But these medicines are to be tested in an appropriate environment first as the results will declare which will work and which will not.
A bad feeling
In the meantime, the world must deal with Ebola old fashioned way. The WHO has set goals: 70% of the burials must be safe and almost 70% of the cases must be locally isolated within the duration of 60 days. It although is a difficult task. The plan will fail if people mistrust the health advice. In these situations fear and suspension spread more than disease, like a wild fire. Those who tried to aware people regarding the Ebola virus have been infected first. Some try to avoid the effect of Ebola by pretending to be infected by other diseases, in plain old sight. However problem such as black marketing of death certificates in the region is no big deal here.
However there is a need for more health care centre. With the increase in the number of affected, the need for proper treatment and isolation is less. For example Liberia has 620 beds but the actual requirement is almost 5 times that of requirement. With the cases growing exponentially, the demand is yet to be taken into account. Talking about the cost, a 70 bed clinic costs around 1 million $ a month to run and requires almost two to three staff per patient. American and Great Britain has promised a financial assistance of 1 billion $, World Bank too has promised a financial assistance of 2 billion $. Ledges and promises are coming in with more humanitarian support. However to stop epidemic it only matters the cure. More cash in hand, nearer the solution and much easier to built treatment centres and supply.
In desperation people are treated in make shift clinics. One idea approachable is to recruit those who withstand immunity towards the disease. Untested and clearly the only possible solution, their success depends upon how well and quick the authorities react.
One thing about Ebola is sure, it affects everything. To avoid any contact from the virus people stay away from fields and farms, hence the price of crops has increased leading to the risk of hunger. Businesses are closed, children are orphaned and political tribal settlements are at flare, creating a difficult situation. It is a test for both the people of Africa and the globalising world.
Anant Mishra, Former Youth Representative