BY PAUL NDIHO
U-S lawmakers and public health experts gathered in Washington, DC on Tuesday to discuss the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and the road to recovery. Many expressed optimism, saying that the rate of new Ebola cases in Liberia has plunged. Sierra Leone is beginning to turn the corner in dealing with the deadly virus, and health officials are now focused on Guinea.
More than 20,700 people have been infected with Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Since it began a year ago and at least 8,200 people have died, according to World Health Organization figures. The rate of transmission has slowed in Guinea and Liberia and there are signs it is starting to recede in Sierra Leone. U.S Congress member Karen Bass invited top experts to speak at a hearing on Capitol Hill.
“What we’re doing this morning is hearing from the designated federal agencies about exactly what they’re doing to address the Ebola crisis in the 3 affected countries, but then thinking beyond the crisis. So after the crisis is over, what do we do in the United States to strengthen the health infrastructure in Africa and we have over 200 people here –many of them representing many of the affected countries.
The Ebola epidemic remains the largest in history — and the virus is still spreading. America’s top infectious diseases official, Dr. Tom Frieden was keen to stress he was optimistic, that “zero cases” of Ebola can be achieved in West Africa.
“A weak spot anywhere or a blind spot anywhere, is a risk to all of us everywhere. As we work to get to zero the next stage will be staying at zero and the next stage will be staying at zero not only in these three countries, but all over where we may face an additional or new risk such as Ebola.”
USIAD, International aid agencies and other charity organizations have played a leading role in the fight against the virus. Dr. Rabih Torbay, international medical corps said training staff and putting in a place a surveillance system is extremely important.
“We need to start rebuilding the healthcare system now; we need to revive the primary and secondary healthcare in those countries now, because people are not just dying from Ebola. People are dying from malaria, people are dying from diarrhea, and women are dying from child birth.
Since December of 2013, when the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, NOG’s in the region have been working around the clock to educate, sensitize and help to combat the epidemic. Saran Kaba Jones, Founder and CEO of Face — Africa has seen firsthand the impact, Ebola has had on community, on lives, and on people.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of strengthening and building infrastructure-not just the health infrastructure, but also basic infrastructure like water and sanitation and that’s what we at are hoping to continue to do.”
Although many people have survived the disease, Health officials have cautioned that there is still a long way to go to eradicate the disease.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:email@example.com, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho