On tumblr, we’ve seen a lot of panic, conspiracy theories, shouts about racism and unfairness, particularly regarding the two Americans getting the serum.
Anyway, one such post has almost 10,000 notes. And that’s a massive waste of time.
Why? If those 9, 641 people had ALL also donated one dollar each to aid organisations, that would have bought a pretty big shipment of gloves, goggles, buckets of chlorine and all the other basic, tried and tested protective equipment the doctors there need to do their work. Yes, I’m calling out this post. Even though I know quite a number of people reblogging it have actually been trying to explain that this isn’t like drug companies withholding proven HIV antiretrovirals by charging astronomical prices, I feel it summarises the way sometimes people here get angry but don’t channel it in a manner that helps.
- It’s understandable why you’re frightened, scared or angry behind the keyboard- this disease is indeed horrible- but that ALONE doesn’t help anybody there. And it’s important the outbreak is stopped at its source, or it will most definitely become everybody’s problem.
What we can do from far away is to donate to the international aid organisations on the frontlines trying to control the epidemic. I’m not under any illusion that this is equivalent to the sacrifices made and risks taken by the healthcare professionals actually face to face with the virus. But it helps.
- It’s important to donate because although there is no licensed drug or vaccine for Ebola, I CANNOT emphasise more that the situation is NOT completely hopeless. Although this strain, Zaire ebolavirus, normally has a mortality rate of 90%, so far, around 40% of African patients in this outbreak have managed to survive. And it seems that higher survival rates are due to early medical intervention. This basically consists of supportive care like keeping patients hydrated with IVs, giving them antibiotics to fight off any other infections, and trying to ensure they don’t bleed to death. All that helps to keep patients alive long enough for their bodies to manufacture the antibodies that eventually kill the virus.
(x) This lady is Sia Bintou Kamano- she was infected with Ebola, and after 10 days fighting the virus in an MSF clinic, she has just been told by the doctor and nurse that her latest blood tests have shown that the virus has been beaten- and that she can now go home.
So- here get cracking. Donate to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders, which is one of main organisations providing critical Ebola emergency care, and which is still operating there (a few others have pulled out). I have donated, and I assure you the form is very easy and fast to fill up. You can go directly to the donation page, or go to this page below, where you can learn more about what MSF is doing in West Africa.
I have linked to the UK website, because it seems to have a direct donation form that is collecting funds specifically for the Ebola epidemic, unlike the US website. It looks like this- you can type in any amount too:
I understand a lot of people on tumblr don’t speak English as a first language, so if you want to read about MSF in a language you’re more familiar with you can click here to go to MSF’s main international website- the front page has a drop down list that allows you to choose your country:
If you really cannot spare any cash, then encourage others to donate. MSF is an amazingly dedicated aid organisation that is really worth supporting- it is also operating in conflict zones around the world. MSF doctors are also in Gaza:
I know I have mentioned MSF before on my previous posts, and I’m doing so again because they are a great international aid organisation I have followed for years ever since I first read about them. Doctors from all over the world, not just developed countries, volunteer with them.
And finally- quite often, I have seen posts that seem to sometimes characterise the situation as just poor Africans that need to be saved by Western doctors and medicine- as passive victims. And I want to emphasise that although there has been a lot of panic amongst locals especially in the rural areas where people are poor and not well-educated, this not the entire story.
- In this present Ebola outbreak, for example, a lot of MSF staff are West Africans themselves- they are all putting themselves at risk to do their part, from fellow doctors, nurses to the sanitation teams that hose down treatment rooms. I am posting these pictures below because as much as I want people to be motivated by the severity of the situation- I want to also show that it’s encouraging how people there are not going down without a fight. All the more, they deserve our support. Can you imagine? These people may be shunned by their own communities who know they go in and deal with Ebola patients everyday. So that’s real courage and sacrifice.
(x) Cokie van der Velde, a sanitation specialist who volunteered with MSF in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. She and the two men with her are part of a team responsible for cleaning the isolation wards and moving the bodies of victims. It’s a dangerous job because they come in contact with a lot of infected bodily fluids.
(x) People preparing to enter an isolation ward at an MSF clinic
(x) Monia Sayah, an MSF nurse, explains to hospital staff in Guinea how the Ebola virus is transmitted and what they can do to protect themselves and their patients.
(x) A dressing assistant helps an MSF worker put on protective gear- ensuring that suits are worn correctly is extremely important because they will be exposed to highly infectious bodily fluids.
So, please, please support them or tell others to do so- they are really trying their best and your donation and your voice- will make a difference.
Donation links: [Ebola Emergency Appeal] [General Donations to support MSF’s other work]