Obama lectures Africans about Ebola – but no real help from White House

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 September 2014

Obama speaks in GhanaPresident Obama has spoken directly from his office at the White House to the Ebola suffering people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, in a manner many would sadly describe, as a condescending lecture about the do’s and don’ts  of Ebola.

Obama fell far short of offering hope, let alone offer of dispatching American doctors and nurses to save lives in West Africa, as MSF announced today that the World is losing the Ebola battle.

The US Centre for Disease Control today said that the window of opportunity to save thousands of lives is fast closing, if something is not done now.

Everyone knows that the US is the single nation State in the world, that has the practical and human resources, including logistics, that can be quickly mobilised to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa.

But president Obama has shown in his live broadcast, that the US will not be sending any practical support anytime soon, if at all.

Many Africans are now saying that, if ever there was a time that Black Africa believed it could look up to the first black president for help at the White House, it is now.

But if today’s broadcast by Obama is anything to go by, then the African continent’s hope has been painfully dashed

Water povertyThis will no doubt be regarded as a missed opportunity for the American president to confound his critics in Africa, who strongly believe that he does not give a damn thing about his so called African brothers and sisters.

In sharp contrast to Obama’s reticence, is the huge benevolence coming from across the China Sea, with several tons of protective wear for health workers, equipment for treatment centres, and Chinese largesse pouring into Sierra Leone, since the outbreak began in March this year.

Does America want to be remembered by generations of Africans yet unborn as ‘the bastion of the free world’ that cannot save the lives of African people afflicted by pestilence?

obama kerryThis is what Obama said:

“Hello. I want to take a few moments to speak directly to you—the people of West Africa, especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

On behalf of the American people, I want you to know that our prayers are with those of you who have lost loved ones during this terrible outbreak of Ebola.

Along with our partners around the world, the United States is working with your governments to help stop this disease. And the first step in this fight is knowing the facts.

First, Ebola is not spread through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from casual contact, like sitting next to someone on a bus. You cannot get it from another person until they show the symptoms of the disease, like fever.

Second, the most common way you can get Ebola is by touching the body fluids of someone who’s sick or has died from it—like their sweat, saliva or blood—or through a contaminated item, like a needle.

That’s why the disease is continuing to spread where patients are being cared for at home or during burials when families and friends lay their loved one to rest.

That’s why health care workers wear protection like gloves and masks. It’s why, if you feel sick with a high fever, you should get help right away—because with prompt treatment in a medical center, nearly half of patients can recover.

And it’s why, when burying someone who died from this disease, it’s important to not directly touch their body; you can respect your traditions and honour your loved ones without risking the lives of the living.

Stopping this disease won’t be easy—but we know how to do it. You are not alone.

Together, we can treat those who are sick with respect and dignity. We can save lives. And our countries can work together to improve public health, so this kind of outbreak doesn’t happen again.

In this urgent work—and in building a stronger and more prosperous Africa—you’ll continue to have a partner in me and in the United States of America.”

Ebola centre in GuineaBut the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea do not need lectures from Obama about Ebola, because every day that passes by, serves a painful lesson as to what to do and what not to do, in order to avoid contracting the virus.

What they need from Obama is practical help, now – ambulances, medical equipment, suitable protective wear for medical staff, trained medical personnel, stretchers, food, clean water, chlorine, and intravenous fluids.

Grand speeches, or as some Africans are now saying – “condescending platitudes from Obama”, will not save lives, nor will it give hope to those that are simply waiting to die of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

America has the means, it has the knowledge, it has the technology, and it has the power to stop Ebola in West Africa – faster than anyone else  – if it really cares.

But as time runs out on the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, Obama’s lecture about Ebola will only be remembered as a missed opportunity to save precious lives.

2 Comments

  1. For goodness sake what is wrong with Sierra Leoneans? I recall a folklore my great grandmother told me and my siblings about Sierra Leone when we were in elementary school. It centres around creation of the universe and distribution of resources.

    When God was creating the universe he had his chief of staff by his side. God had separate days to distribute resources (natural and human) to different countries. When it came to Sierra Leone: on Monday he distributed fertile lands for agriculture, Tuesday for mineral resources (gold, diamond, bauxite etc), Wednesday it was water and marine resources, Thursday for human beings etc, etc.

    God’s chief of staff became jealous – pointing out to the variety and amount of resources bestowed on a small population, whilst it was the opposite for other countries, or worse.

    God told him not to be jealous, but to wait and see how Sierra Leoneans will manage their vast resources and conduct themselves; and that what they have won’t benefit them – but others with less resources.

    He finally told his chief of staff that the latter will come centuries later to plead on their (Sierra Leoneans) behalf for his intervention on their trials and tribulations.

    The Ebola war in Sierra Leone is virtually being fought by the international community currently, because the country lacks the essential variables to fight the disease: expertise, logistics, materiel, sound leadership and discipline.

    Last week, the Director of the (US) Centre for Disease Control – Dr Frieden – told State House that urgent and sound leadership at all levels is needed to eradicate the disease. Lo and behold, a couple of days later the (square-peg-in-round-hole) Minister of Health and Sanitation – Ms Miatta Kargbo was fired, and the structures set up to address the crisis were overhauled and new ones established.

    Recently, out of the eighty-two billion Leones package approved for dissatisfied and striking medical and support staff, two-thirds was provided by the international community with the Government contributing only one-third (29 bn Leones).

    The information minister – Alpha Kanu, stated recently in an interview on the national broadcaster (SLBC) that Ebola will not destroy Sierra Leone, and that only one thousand (1000) Sierra Leoneans out of a population of six million are affected; with five million nine hundred thousand (5,900,0000) living their lives normally.

    Unfortunately, this is the same logic and argument the international community is using in their response to the Ebola crisis. It is all about numbers and scale!

    • Wow! Sharp mind. These leaders just think all Sierra Leoneans are stupid.

      It had to take an International entity to nudge all of US. Thank you Dr Friendan. You saved the nation.

      Blunder after blunder after poor leadership, after arrogance and the list goes on!

      Sierra Leoneans have been dying everyday for the past 5-6months; all due to playfulness at high levels.

      The health system sucks! They cared less. So it is for Cancer which is on the rise, Diabetes, Sickle Cell, Mental Health, Cardiovascular Disease, etc.

      But, God in his infinite told Pharoah to let his people go- Ebola has / will change Sierra Leone!

      We thank you great Jehovah.

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