by Tamara Pearson/TeleSUR
2 November 2014
Ebola, because of the way it is easily transmitted and that it kills, is a scary disease. However, the media, through disinformation and information omission, has blown that fear out of proportion. With a few basic steps at a personal level and on a larger scale, Ebola can be prevented, with no need for such alarm and sensationalism.
- Raise awareness of symptoms and procedures
It is important to only focus on symptoms, and not a person’s country of origin or where they look like they are from. Decisions to isolate, to ground a plane and so on, should be based on rationality, and information not discrimination.
Ebola is spread by contact with infected body fluids of someone with active symptoms. It is not an airborne disease. Its symptoms include: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained haemorrhage like bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear two to 21 days after exposure.
The methods for raising awareness can be creative, such as this mural
- Provide training, protective equipment, and sufficient health infrastructure.
Hospitals, both in the US, Europe, and in West African countries, need sufficient protective equipment, and nurses and doctors need specific training in how to recognize and treat Ebola. The U.S. National Nurses United says it doesn’t have enough protective equipment and is demanding Obama enforce the provision of uniforms, national standards and protocols. “Not one more patient, nurse, or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness,” states the union.
All those regions also need decent, basic, free health care. With that, outbreaks are easy to treat and prevent. According to a Lancet report by Ranu S Dhillon, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, Jeffrey Sachs, and co., 60 to 90 percent of untreated patients in the West African countries die, while effective medical care would reduce that rate to below 30 percent. When healthcare is free and of high quality, people don’t wait until the symptoms get worse (and more contagious) before seeking attention.
- Invest in vaccines, instead of luxury, for profit medicine and surgery
According to a document by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, mass production of Ebola vaccines would cost US$73 million for 27 million doses. GlaxoSmithKline has a vaccine in development, likely ready for trials by early next year. The sad fact is though, almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a 100 percent effective vaccine to the Ebola virus. Health officials were excited, but testing on people never happened and the vaccine sat on a shelf, because the medicine did not, and does not, have a profitable market – namely, at the time the few hundred people affected were from third world countries.
The World Health Organization has also confirmed that “several hundred thousand” vaccines will be produced in the first half of the year, but these should have been available Continue reading