Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Brit Doctor's Diary Facing the African Ebola Epidemic

Here is a BBC site with four streaming audios of a British doctor,  Geraldine O'Hara, providing a diary of her service in Sierra Leon providing medical attention during the Ebola epidemic.

Dr. O'Hara (right) with a MSF colleague
The photo and the following quotations are from the local paper in the Yorkshire town where she grew up:
Dr O’Hara, 36, ......... gained her medical degree at Manchester University. She then studied for a PhD at Oxford and is now working as a registrar on infectious disease in London.
And she is quoted directly:
“Personally, we have the capacity to control this and stop it spreading with simple measures such as hand washing, disinfectant, separating sick people from well people, encouraging safe burial practices. 
“And people are suffering and dying unnecessarily; our responsibility to each other as human beings is we should alleviate suffering. 
“There are doctors and nurses here from Canada, Holland, the US, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and ireland amongst others who all feel the same that something can be done and should be done and we can contribute to it. 
“None of us are special, none of us are heroes”.
They are all heroes to me!

I want to underline one point that she makes. While the first task is to stop this epidemic and to do so as quickly as possible with as little further spread as possible, that should not be the end of our work in these countries. Their health systems were weak before the epidemic, but they are badly broken now. The world needs to come to the aid of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon as they try to rebuild their physician and nurse cadres and reopen their hospitals and health centers. We should do so in compassion for what the people are going through, in recognition of the economic needs of these countries, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is in our self interest that they be better able to deal with the health problems of their people.

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