September Ebola Update

It is nearly nine months into the Ebola Virus epidemic in West Africa and despite all efforts, we are only seeing signs of worsening. This has left the World Health Organization, the CDC, and local officials in a state of shock and disbelief. The first recorded outbreak of the disease was in 1976, however a recently published article explains why this Ebola epidemic has claimed more lives than all other previous outbreaks combined. To grasp these numbers, an interactive map from PBS Frontline tracks the start and ensuing spread of the virus across West Africa.

We are in frequent contact with our everyday gandhis family and friends in Liberia who are keeping us updated on this terrible crisis. Mulbah Richards, eg Liberia Youth Coordinator, reports things are definitely getting worse due primarily to the severe shortage of beds in Monrovia. Furthermore, our personal losses extend this week to eg friend, Henrietta whose cousin passed September 9th of Ebola. He was an ambulance driver for one of the major hospitals and had handled a patient while transporting her, before himself becoming ill.

In light of such events and in a continued effort to keep our community informed and updated, please see the lastest Liberia SitRep from September 6th. You may note that the number of cases and deaths in August alone account for approximately 40% of the cumulative cases since the outbreak in early 2014. Upon further analysis, it is also interesting to note that it was not until the month of August that an international health emergency was even declared. Though this has paved the way for an increased international response, on-ground efforts remain painfully slow.

A boy suspected of Ebola is carried away to a treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia by healthcare workers.

This clearly shows how difficult it has been to contain the virus. And according to the SitReps, recent diagnoses are showing more positive results than negative. Considering the limited, overcrowded and weak healthcare system in Liberia, in addition to community transmission patterns and the RO (rate of production) as we know, this leads towards the CDC/WHO prediction that cumulative cases will go up quickly, and in big numbers.

Upon such prediction, Obama has emphasized the neccessary and urgent deployment of military and medical responders to fast tract the set up of badly needed medical infrastructure. Time will tell how this response will pan out.

In the meantime, this is quickly becoming a transnational crisis with huge social, economic and security implications. A recent New York Times article breaks down the economic impact on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, "three West African nations already at the bottom of global economic and social indicators." As for Liberia itself, the ramifications of the outbreak go beyond the current medical emergency and could ultimately result in social or political collapse, according to recent predictions.

As both insiders and outsiders to the Ebola epidemic, we remain transfixed by the unexpected and tragic progression of this deadly disease.

-Jenna Hammerlag, Media Coordinator, everyday gandhis

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