As someone who is from the United States, we often hear about epidemics but we do not really experience them up close enough to fully understand the emotions and pain that those suffering and their families experience on a daily basis. In Liberia, many families have been shell shocked by grief as they lose loved ones from Ebola and fear getting infected themselves.
They say that firefighters are brave because when they see a fire they run towards it while others run in the other direction. Health care workers in Liberia and other parts of West Africa have this same type of mentality because they are running into situations where they face death every second of the day.
Most people have not heard of Dr. Samuel Brisbane but he is a hero in my eyes and in the eyes of many Liberians. He is a doctor who worked at JFK Medical Center in Monrovia to treat Ebola patients. Unfortunately, he just lost his own life to the virus. He and many health care workers have died while trying to help the sick.
Can you imagine what he and others had to endure during this crisis? Can you imagine having to tell people every day that things will be okay, even though you know that they probably will not? It must be terrifying to watch death claim so many victims young and old each day.
The emotional and physical toll that this epidemic has put on health care workers is monumental. They know that they are most likely going to die of Ebola themselves but they still do whatever they can to use their medical training to make patients comfortable as there is no cure. Patients can survive but it really is a guessing game as more than 60% of those in Liberia that have gotten Ebola have died from the virus.
No one should have to suffer and die alone. This is why health care workers do what they do. They do not do it for praise or rewards, they do it because they feel like they can make a difference in the lives of those that are suffering. Patients with Ebola are afraid to die but they also fear being the spark that fans the flames and sickens more of their loved ones. The emotions that they face when hanging between life and death must be traumatic to have to go through.
It is important for people to understand that Ebola can strike anyone regardless of age, gender, race, religion, education. It does not just strike the poor. Ebola does not care if you are a nice person or a bad person because it strikes people indiscriminately. Many people have read about this story for weeks and are saddened and post comments but actions, not words are the remedy for this severe health crisis.
Most people go about their daily lives and think that this is just an African problem. Wrong! This is a people problem. We are all people regardless of where we were born or where we live. Your survival should not hinge on your circumstances or the particular zip code that you live in. Imagine if your spouse, child, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, grandmother or grandfather came down with Ebola, wouldn’t you scream at the top of your lungs with every last breath in your body to get them help? All of us need to see this virus as what it is- a call to act!
Knowing that he would most likely lose his life, Dr. Brisbane decided to go home and treat himself instead of stay in a hospital. Many people in Dr. Brisbane’s shoes would not have acted so heroically. He chose to act selflessly instead of potentially infect others and had to be brought to another hospital as his case worsened. Can you say that you would act the same if you were in the same situation?
Liberians are afraid of contracting Ebola and need our help. Health care workers have been targeted because people are scared and do not understand what Ebola is or how to prevent and treat it. Illiteracy and poverty are two reasons why people often believe rumors instead of facts that have been explained to them by medical professionals. This has created a tense situation where Ebola victims are being kept hidden instead of being taken to get treatment.
If swift action is not taken then many more people will become infected with the virus. Liberians need to try to reach out to friends and family members to educate them about how Ebola is spread so that safeguards can be put in place.
History has showed us that those that merely sit on the sidelines will never be remembered in the history books. We need to help to make Ebola a virus of the past. Please fight this good fight with us. The Liberian Embassy has asked for help to get donations to send supplies with the help of Global Health Ministries. The donations need to be received by August 02, 2014. Please donate if you can to: Global Health Ministries c/o Liberia Ebola Response Shipment. 7831 Hickory Street NE. Minneapolis, MN. 55432.