Geographies in Depth

How we can all help in the fight against Ebola

Ban Ki-moon
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Future of Global Health and Healthcare

In the fight against the Ebola outbreak, there are many ways we can all give.

We cannot afford to be complacent in our response to this unforgiving virus and the threat it poses, not only to West Africa, but to the world. We will not defeat the outbreak until the last case is contained and treated. For that, we need financial assistance, mobile laboratories, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, trained medical personnel, medevac capacity, social mobilization and more.

Many governments, organizations, businesses and individuals have generously contributed life-saving support. Every contribution, however small, matters.
For businesses, I commend the UN Global Compact Action Pledge on Ebola Eliminationand the Business Engagement Guide, which outlines how the private sector can contribute to the response – financially, with in-kind donations, or by directly providing assets or services and more.

We are also asking qualified health workers to volunteer to be part of the Ebola response on the ground in West Africa. Several Governments have been generous in sending skilled health personnel, but many more are needed to provide assistance where it is most required – especially in remote districts. They are needed so that Ebola treatment units and community care centres are staffed by health personnel who know how to treat Ebola. They are needed for quicker identification of cases, as well as rapid contact tracing and follow-up. Where they are present, the rate of transmission slows and communities are less vulnerable.

There is another very important way that everyone can give to the Ebola response that doesn’t involve donating money, nor does it mean volunteering time. What it requires is fighting the stigma associated with Ebola and the fear that the disease creates.

Survivors have been discriminated against and ostracized from their own communities.Children orphaned by the disease have been left feeling abandoned by the extended family members who would usually take them in because fear of Ebola has in some cases been stronger than family ties. People who have travelled to West Africa and put themselves at great personal risk for the sake of others have been treated almost as pariahs on returning home — when in fact they should be honoured for stepping up and helping to protect us all.

Stigma has also impacted health provision, education, food security, trade and the economic well-being of affected countries.

We can all help to challenge stigma by engaging with those who spread and perpetuate it through sharing of the facts of Ebola and what can be done to stop it – on social media, and with colleagues, friends and family. Start by finding out how much you know about Ebola and challenging others to get informed.

It’s going to take everyone doing their part and showing solidarity to slow this outbreak – and we all have something to give.

Published in collaboration with LinkedIn

Author: Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Image: Image: Ward physician Thomas Klotzkowski and doctor for tropical medicine Florian Steiner (L) put on protective suits at the quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases at the Charite hospital in Berlin August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter.

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