At an emergency hearing in
Washington Thursday
afternoon, MAJOR PLAYERS in the
fight against Ebola in West
Africa addressed the outbreak
that has stolen the lives of more
than 900. Leaders from health
agencies and humanitarian
efforts addressed the need for
increased support as one called
the current state of affairs in
West Africa “apocalyptic.”

Rep. Christopher Smith, the
chairman of the House Foreign
Affairs Subcommittee on Africa
and Global Health, opened the
hearing by urging the speakers
to clear the air on a “grave
issue” that has “gripped” the
mass media for weeks.
“We hope to gain a realistic
understanding of what we’re up
against while avoiding
sensationalism,” he told the
floor. Here are the takeaways:
The outbreak is getting
Already an unprecedented
outbreak, CDC Director Dr. Tom
Frieden says the number of
infected and killed by Ebola will
likely soon outnumber all other
Ebola outbreaks in the past 32
years combined. According to
the CDC, there have already
been more than 1,700
suspected and confirmed cases
of Ebola in West Africa, and
more than 900 deaths—
numbers which Frieden later
called “too foggy” to be
Ken Isaacs, the Vice President of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse (SIM), painted an even bleaker
picture. According to SIM, West
Africa has counted 1,711
diagnoses and 932 deaths,
already, which could represent
only a small fraction of the
actual number. “We believe
that these numbers represent
just 25-50 percent of what is
happening,” said Isaacs.

The atmosphere in West
Africa is “apocalyptic.”
In a six-hour meeting with the
president of Liberia last week,
Isaacs said SIM workers
watched as the “somber”
officials explained the gravity of
the situation in their countries,
where hundreds lie dead in the
streets. “It has an atmosphere
of apocalypse,” Isaacs said of
the Liberia Ministry of Health’s
status updates. “Bodies lying in
the street … gangs threatening
to burn down hospitals. I
believe this disease has the
potential to be a national
security risk for many nations.
Our response has been a
failure.” Isaacs says that the
epidemic is inciting panic
worldwide that, in his opinion,
may soon be warranted.
“We have to fight it now here or
we’re going to have to fight it
somewhere else.”
US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) Director
Tom Frieden shows an
awareness poster as he testifies
before Africa, Global Health,
Global Human Rights and
International Organizations
Subcommittee hearing on
“Combating the Ebola Threat”
at the Rayburn House Office
Building in Washington, DC, on
August 7, 2014.
It’s unclear how many
“serums” are available in
the U.S. Frieden explained that the government is looking carefully into any possible treatment for the infection, but stressed that because of “rapidly evolving” information, it is unclear how many of the potentially life-
saving Ebola “serums” are
available. “I can’t tell you definitively how many courses
there are,” said Frieden.
“I heard there are a handful—
fewer than the fingers of one
hand. Some manufacturers
have reportedly said they can
make some, but some
companies are saying it could
take months. I don’t have
definitive information. Frieden
further reiterated that Dr.
Richard Brantly and Dr. Nancy
Writebol are the first two
humans to be given the treatment, suggesting that even
if additional treatments were
available it may not be ethical
to use them. “Whatever
happens with these individuals…we will still do not know from their experience whether these drugs work.
Antibodies are only one part of
our response to an illness—in
other conditions antibodies can
make a disease worse. It’s too
soon to know.”


Isaacs, head of the
humanitarian agency for which
Writebol and Brantly worked,
vehemently condemned the
international community for a
response that he considers both
delayed and insufficient. “The
disease is uncontained and out
of control, the international
response has been a failure,” – he said…. With three of the
poorest nations in the world
currently affected, West Africa
is extremely ill-prepared for the
disaster—a fact, which Issacs
argued, necessitates more
response. “The ministries of
health in these countries do not
have the capacity to handle
this. If a mechanism is not
found the world will be
effectively relegating the
containment of this disease to
three of the poorest nations in
the world,” he said, adding
later: “Is the world willing to let
the public health of the world
be in their hands?”


When asked to update the
current status of the two
American SIM workers being
treated at Emory after
contacting the disease in
Liberia, Isaacs said they were
“getting better every day.” He
was not able to confirm whether
either can be classified as
stable. “I don’t think [their
recovery] will be fast,” he said.
“I will say that they seem to
have gotten better. We
appreciate that they are getting
good treatment—we pray that
they will survive.”


In the days since the two
American doctors have returned
to America, SIM has heard
widespread concern about the
two’s reintegration. “People are
afraid to get around them—
husbands, wives, no one knows
if it’s safe,” he said. “We are
doing everything we can to give
them a safe place to be, but
imagine how difficult it is for
American citizens—and all
citizens—to suffer from this,” he
said. Some from the
communities where the two
doctors came from have
reportedly expressed concern
for them infecting others in the
community. “This is a nasty,
bloody disease; I could give you
descriptions of people dying
that you cannot even believe.”
Doctors in the Ebola-infected
countries are in desperate
need of supplies.
Dr. Frank Glover, a missionary
with SIM who also testified at
the hearing, expressed
frustration with the lack of
personal protective gear (PPG),
which he says is increasing the
spread of infections
significantly. Glover says the
doctors and nurses in these
areas, particularly Liberia, are
“terrified” to enter the hospitals
because of lack of proper
gloves, goggles, and gowns that
are needed to protect them.
“The number one cause of
infections in Liberia is lack of
protective gear. It’s
unconscionable that we’re
asking them to take care of
people without gloves. If we’re
putting people on the line, we
owe it to them to give them a
fighting chance.”
The quarantined towns are
in desperate need of other
vital support systems.
Rep. Karen Bass, a standing
member on Smith’s
subcommittee who spoke with
Liberian President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf, says the quarantined
areas in West Africa are in
desperate need of basic
supplies like food and water.
“Health care is a human right.
We must ensure these countries
have what they need to fight for
it.” Both Isaacs and Glover also
expressed concern for the lack
of education in West Africa,
both the symptoms and proper
response that should be taken
in the wake of an infection. “A
poster on the wall saying ‘Ebola
kills’ isn’t going to do it,” said
Isaacs. “They need education.”
Grover cited the 14-year civil
war in Liberia, which left
millions illiterate, as one of the
main roadblocks in educating
the country.
The U.S. may not be
prepared to treat American
relief workers, should they
get infected?.
According to SIM director
Isaacs, the plane that flew
Writebol and Brantly to safety in
Atlanta is the sole vehicle of
that kind in existence. “There is
only one airplane in the world
with one chamber to carry level
4 pathogenic victim. One—and
it’s in the U.S,” said Isaacs.
“There is no other aircraft in
the world.” Isaacs says that
unless the Department of
Defense is secretly in
possession of another aircraft,
then the U.S. will not have the
power to evacuate more than
one American relief worker at a
time, should they get infected?.
“If the U.S. is going to expect
CDC people [in these nations],
there has to be assurance that
we can care for them when they
are sick.”
The disease could spread to
other countries.
Isaacs, whose urgings to
Congress about the urgency for
a better response prompted
Thursday’s meeting, is gravely
concerned about the future.
After first observing the
outbreak in April, he’s watched
the disease spread furiously
across West Africa with little to
no effective international
support. “I think we are going to
see death tolls in numbers that
we can’t imagine,” said Isaacs.
“If we do not fight and contain
this disease, we will be fighting
this and containing this in
multiple countries across the
world. The cat is, most likely,
already out of the bag.”

Posted By Barry Balogun
Barry after spending nearly 10 years as a
professional radio journalist, ClubCity Records’ Events/Show Manager
Barry Balogun now helps Artists sing
all over world advance their music careers. He
offers classes and consultations on everything from how Artists/bands can better interact with the media to
designing their websites and media kits. Also a co-host of ClubCity Records’s “Industreet Collections” for upcoming artists. Barry’s
articles have been red by people in more than
twenty countries and have been shared by top
music industry officials and voice instructors,
marketing experts, radio stations, and artist.


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