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Health Care Infrastructure, Global Response Needed to Fight Ebola, Daemen Expert Panel Says | Health

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Health Care Infrastructure, Global Response Needed to Fight Ebola, Daemen Expert Panel Says
Health, News, Politics
Health Care Infrastructure, Global Response Needed to Fight Ebola, Daemen Expert Panel Says

A strong public health infrastructure and international aid are crucial to containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, a panel of experts said at a discussion held last week at Daemen College.

“The appropriate infrastructure and control strategy to contain this disease is not in place where the outbreak is at its worst in West Africa,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “The level of global response will determine how quickly the disease can be kept from spreading or stopped and we must make sure the intensive medical care required reaches these patients.”

A capacity crowd turned out for Daemen’s timely Ebola panel discussion, which also included Dr. Joseph Sahr Sankoh, Daemen associate professor of political science and African affairs, and Anthony Saysay, a native Liberian.

Sankoh explained there are many political, economic and cultural issues that are impacting the spread of Ebola in his native country of Sierra Leone, as well as Liberia and Guinea, which are among the poorest countries in the world.

“Ebola has added to the poverty of these West African nations, where after years of war in these lands there has been minimal investment in health care and in making it accessible to the people. Medical workers are also not being properly trained to deal with the disease,” he said. “This must be addressed at its source with the assistance of the international community.”

To that end, Sankoh pointed out several other contributing factors to the spread of this deadly disease. Poor sanitary conditions and transportation, the common practice of polygamy, eating food with their hands rather than utensils, and even burial customs all add to Ebola being more easily transmitted.

Saysay echoed the extreme challenges Ebola patients are facing to access medical care and receive treatment. “Nurses and other health care workers are fleeing the hospitals out of fear they will get the disease so patients are not getting the care they need and left to die,” he said. “Even though most of my family is here, I worry about what will happen to those who are still in Liberia.” Understanding the concerns of local residents,

Burstein stressed that Erie County and New York State are well prepared to deal with patient care and management of the disease. There are eight designated Ebola medical facilities in the state to treat patients.

“We have a robust public health infrastructure in place and protocols that already exist to deal with an infectious disease crisis like Ebola,” she said. “Also, some procedures are being revised based on what we’ve learned from mistakes in handling the disease that have occurred with this outbreak.”

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