Africa Left Alone: Obama says too early to send experimental Ebola drug to Africa
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, speaking a day before yesterday August 6th 2014, at a news conference in Abuja, said: a Nigerian nurse has died from the Ebola Virus. He said the nurse worked at the Lagos hospital where Liberian Patrick Sawyer was treated. He said she died, August 5th 2014. He also revealed that five medical practitioners who interacted with Sawyer have been confirmed to have contracted the deadly virus
“Nigeria has now recorded seven confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease. The first one was the index case, which was the imported case from Liberia of which the victim is now late. On Tuesday, 5th August, 2014, the first known Nigerian to die of the Ebola Virus was recorded and that was one of the nurses that attended to the Liberian. The other five cases are currently being treated at the Isolation Ward in Lagos.” he said.
The Minister noted that all the Nigerians diagnosed with the disease had primary contact with the late Liberian man. He then announced the appointment of Prof. O. Onajole, of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, who will be based in Lagos, as the Director, Communication and Community Mobilization for the Ebola Virus Disease.
At the U.S.-Africa Summit, Obama said it was premature for him to say whether the U.S. would send an unapproved, experimental drug to Africa or whether he would support fast-tracking its approval in the U.S.
“I think we’ve got to let the science guide us,” the president said, adding that he didn’t have enough data about the effectiveness of the medicine.
While acknowledging the tragedy for those families whose loved ones have died, Obama sought to tamp down fears about the latest outbreak and said Ebola was “controllable if you’ve got a strong public health infrastructure in place.”
The summit addressed questions of how to increase U.S. investment in Africa. Although the government gives billions of dollars of foreign aid to the continent, China has rapidly accelerated its pace of investment in oil rich African nations.
On Tuesday, Obama announced 33 billion dollars in new commitments to Africa, which included investments from companies like Coca Cola and General Electric. He noted that the U.S. trade with Africa is roughly equal to U.S. trade with Brazil.
“The United States is determined to be a partner in Africa’s success,” Obama said on Tuesday. “We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources. We recognize Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people, their talents and their potential.”
An issue that I think that needs to be addressed, is how the infectiousness of this virus is downplayed to allay panic. True, the Ebola virus can only be contracted by the contact and absorption of infected bodily fluids, but when you present it in this manner, people start to think,‘oh its just like HIV’. This is NOT true. Ebola has a lot more transmission vectors, is a lot more virulent and has a lot more means for uptake into the body.
HIV cant be contracted from sweat, mucus, saliva, tears, feces or urine; Ebola can. HIV can only be contracted from breast milk, blood, semen and vaginal fluid, all four vectors being extremely inefficient and difficult means of transmission for a virus. The only reason why HIV has been able to become a pandemic is because its a quiet virus, with no immediate symptoms and incubation periods lasting years(during which time the virus is transmissible). Those who contract HIV are generally unsuspecting victims. Unlike HIV you can visibly identify an Ebola victim.
You can hug a HIV patient, have them sneeze in your face(not recommended) , drink their back-washed water, even sit on the toilet seat they peed on and not worry. Do the same with an Ebola victim and your dead. In fact, if you touched an Ebola victims sweaty body and rubbed your eyes, you could get infected because Ebola can be absorbed by that means.
When someone says Ebola is not highly contagious because its not airborne like SARS and the Influenza, they have not only made a false statement, but they have also created a false sense of security. Because a virus is lacking in the airborne vector, doesn’t mean it cant make up for it in virulence and a host of other transmission vectors (sweat, tears,urine,etc).