The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 September 2014
President 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
This 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?
“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.”
But 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.