To say that there has been a lot of talk about Ebola lately is quite the understatement. No matter which paper you open up, there are bound to be at least two or three stories relating to the virus in one way or another. Stockpiles of hand sanitizer are running dry with people rushing to purchase whatever they think might be able to keep them safe from the disease’s deadly grasp. And the number of infected are rising every day, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. It’s a scary thing, and as such, there has been quite a lot of talk and speculation surrounding it. But it’s very important that the facts be separated from the fiction if this thing is ever going to be beaten. And there has been a lot of fiction floating around.
One of the more common pieces of dialogue in circulation regarding the virus is that “there is no cure,” or, “there is no treatment.” Now, it’s very important to recognize the large differences in the meanings behind these two phrases. There is no cure for Ebola this much is true. But that does not mean that there is no treatment, and to say such a thing is not only incorrect, but potentially dangerous.
For example, there are no known cures for diseases like diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDS. But if that also meant there were no treatments for them, many of our friends and family would not be here today. Each one of these conditions has a wide array of treatments associated with it that have been proven time and time again to reduce the levels of fatalities. In fact, there are people all over the world with each one of these illnesses that continue to live completely normal lives, and some have had the diseases expelled from their bodies completely. Treatments can work with potentially high levels of success, even if no known cure exists for them.
In the case of Ebola, the same logic applies. Although there is no known cure for the virus at this time, there are many experimental treatments that have been shown to give victims a genuine fighting chance. When the outbreak first began, fatality rates were at nearly 90 per cent. But those levels have dropped significantly since quarantine and treatment centres have been established, and one such centre in Guinea has actually seen fatality levels drop to as low as 37 per cent. If they hadn’t sought medical attention, most of the people in that centre would not be alive today. Furthermore, since the virus was discovered in Sierra Leone there have been approximately 240 confirmed cases but only 70 deaths. So far, that’s a fatality rate of just under 30 per cent hardly the rate that would exist if there truly was no treatment available.
Professor Peter Piot, who first discovered the virus after its initial 1976 outbreak in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) last week acknowledged this to be the most serious outbreak since Ebola’s initial discovery. However he also suggested that the use of specific anti-viral drugs could have a significant effect in combating the virus’s spread through the human body. He actively advocates for those showing symptoms to seek treatment right away in an effort to protect others and better their own chances for survival. Treatments do exist; this is not a debate.
Because when it comes down to it, seeking treatment is not only the best way to help yourself, but it’s also the only way to save those around you. There have been far too many reports of people fleeing after they have been diagnosed with the disease. You shouldn’t need me to tell you why this is not only a bad idea for yourself, but also a downright immoral action. As you all know by now, anyone who comes into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person is at an extremely high risk of contracting the virus themselves. This is what makes Ebola so dangerous and why fleeing treatment is not only damning yourself, but damning your countrymen as well.
So propagating the falsehood that a treatment doesn’t exist is only going to make the problem exponentially worse. People who have contracted the disease would be reluctant to turn themselves in out of the fear that no one could help them anyway, and the virus would only spread that much further with each and every person they came into contact with. This is why people should be conscious of the impact of spreading misinformation. Exchanging an idea rooted only in speculation can and will have deadly consequences.
So I beg you, if you truly want to help your fellow man, spread the good news that there are treatments for the deadly Ebola virus. There is hope for anyone who has fallen into its grip, but only if they know that that hope exists.
For yourself and for all of Sierra Leone, know that treatments are waiting to help anyone and everyone suffering from Ebola. Truth saves lives. Keep that in mind.
Thursday July 10, 2014