Cuba is neither a late nor a newcomer to offering help to countries within the African continent.
Now, with the outburst of the deadly Ebola disease ravishing parts of Africa, the Cuban government has once again sought to embrace the affected countries by sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel from Cuba to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.
In a statement issued by WHO, the Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, described the situation as Ebola Zaire, the most deadly in the Ebola family of viruses.
She said, “This is a dreaded virus that is highly contagious, but under only two very specific settings.
First, during care of patients at home by family members or in hospital settings without proper protection against infection. Second, during certain traditional burial practices that involve close contact with a highly infectious corpse.”
She also said that “in the 3 hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centres.”
In Liberia, for example, she noted, “An Ebola treatment facility, set up jointly by WHO and the Ministry of Health, was recently established to manage 30 patients. It had more than 70 patients the day it opened. Today, Liberia has not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient anywhere in the entire country.”
Dr. Chan further said, “Our response is running short on nearly everything, from personal protective equipment, to body bags, to mobile laboratories, to isolation wards.”
In addition, she explained that there is a huge need for health care workers. These she said include having the right people and right specialists who are appropriately trained and know how to keep themselves safe.
“This is vitally important to stop transmission of the Ebola virus. Money and materials are important, but those two things alone cannot stop Ebola virus transmission,” she posited.
“Human resources are clearly our most important need. We need most especially compassionate doctors and nurses, who will know how to comfort patients despite the barriers of wearing PPE and working under very demanding conditions,” she declared.
Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow
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