By Tadias Staff
Published: Friday, September 19, 2014
New York (TADIAS) – So far East Africa has been spared from the Ebola outbreak that’s ravaging western parts of the continent. But that’s no comfort says an association of Ethiopian doctors in the Diaspora, People to People (P2P), which issued a communiqué on Friday expressing its solidarity with fellow medical workers in West Africa. “We, as health care professionals of African descent, stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in those countries and ask for immediate action to alleviate and control this epidemic,” the U.S.-based NGO announced. P2P members are gathering in Washington, D.C. this weekend for the organization’s 6th annual conference on health care and medical education.
“[Let's] pause for a moment and ask why we got here in the first place,” P2P stated. “This epidemic, as deadly as it is, should not have come to such a proportion if the world community acted swiftly and with an urgency that it deserves.” The communiqué adds: “We want to emphasize that this is an opportunity to galvanize the momentum created to envision a center of excellence in infectious diseases in Africa. The creation and funding of African Centers for Disease Control must be given priority and be set in motion as soon as possible. From those not affected by this epidemic, we ask due attention to health care infrastructure and manpower development before emergency strikes. From the African Union, UN, major donors and the world at large we ask for an immediate financial, manpower and equipment assistance to those countries who are heavily affected by the epidemic.”
The P2P statement comes on the heels of a U.S. Congressional hearing on the crisis held this week (Wednesday, September 17th) by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, featuring testimony from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at National Institutes of Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); Ted Alemayhu, Founder & Executive Chairman of US Doctors for Africa; and Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, Director of the Secretariat at the Diaspora Liberian Emergency Response Task Force on the Ebola Crisis.
In his testimony Ted Alemayhu told members of Congress that in addition to a severe shortage of healthcare professionals in Ebola affected countries — in some cases averaging “one doctor for 50,000 people” — protective medical gear such as masks, gloves, and gowns, are badly needed. “Local healthcare workers have threatened to quit their services if their safety is not insured with delivery of these items,” he said. “And who could blame them.”