ebola in west africa

Most news outlets have been focused with the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As defined by WebMD: “it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.” Ebola has an extremely high mortality rate — at 90% (WebMD). Ebola first became isolated in 1976, during one of its outbreaks. In 2014, there has been another severe outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of August 4, 2014, “the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the four countries stands at 1,711, including 932 deaths”. The four countries they are referring to are: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The WHO have began to take measures wrt to this outbreak. On their website, they stated that that their response to this outbreak would center around 3 areas: “Treatment of Guéckédou, Kenema, and Foya as a unified sector, which will include public health measures meant to reduce movement in and out of the area; Intensifying current measures in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone;  Taking steps to reduce international spread to other countries in Africa and outside of the African region” (WHO). In addition to this, the Sub-regional Ebola Operations Coordination Center (SEOCC) are also taking action — by country.

Two American aid workers contracted Ebola were offered an experimental drug known as ZMapp. They have seen some improvements in their condition (Al Jazeera). What’s interesting is that these experimental drugs have only been offered to these American aid workers; they haven’t been offered to the West Africans.

Barry Hewlett, a medical anthropologist at Washington State University, was part of an WHO Ebola team in 2000, when there was an outbreak in Uganda (NPR). He says that when he was there, people were definitely wary of the international health care workers. Having anthropologists on the team assisted with understanding the community’s wariness and working with them to ensure that everyone is safe from this outbreak.


“Ebola Virus: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.” Information and Resources: Ebola Virus Infection. WebMD. Web. Aug. 2014.

“Experts: Give New US Ebola Drug to Africans – Al Jazeera English.” Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 05 Aug. 2014. Web. Aug. 2014.

Poon, Linda. “Why Anthropologists Join An Ebola Outbreak Team.” NPR. NPR, 2 Apr. 2014. Web. Aug. 2014.


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