As the world races to achieve Zero Ebola Cases, international agencies and donor organizations working with affected countries may have to shift their focus from the number of Ebola cases to the aftermath of Ebola – psychologically, economically, socially and infrastructure-wise. It is not enough, neither is it appropriate to simply wrap up operations and terminate funding after the last Ebola patient is discharged.
19 year-old Kadiatu Conteh’s contracted EVD through her mother, who also got the virus when she was taking care of her infected son – both of them lost their lives to the virus. In all she lost 12 members of her family to the Ebola Outbreak. With only 4 family members left, she is faced with the burden of looking after herself and her family members. This is in addition to the trauma of losing her loved ones. Without adequate financial and psycho-social support, her dreams of furthering her education and becoming a social worker might be placed on hold.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are filled with thousands of Kadiatus whose dreams of a bright future have been truncated by the Ebola outbreak. It is important that these dreams are not left to wither away in the suffering and misery that is most assuredly going to face the survivors of Ebola if no assistance is offered.
Significant thought ought to be given to (re)building the already weak and poor economies of the worst-affected countries, which have been made even weaker and poorer by the outbreak. Education, healthcare, industries, agriculture and small businesses are some of the areas that need to be addressed if the world is not to face something worse than Ebola by 2016.
An Ebola-free Guinea and Sierra Leone should not be seen as a license to terminate funding to the affected nations but as an opportunity to build lasting structures that can withstand the tests of time, politics and infectious diseases. Zero Ebola Cases should be seen as a checkpoint, not a destination.
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