Witnessing the tremendous amount of effort involved and the allocation of this scarce distribution capacity to our goods made me realize that it's not just an unfortunate misstep to send supplies that nobody wanted or requested. It's wrong.
People are afraid to come into hospitals. Hopefully this is temporary, but for now, there is a strong aversion to them. And it's a totally rational feeling based on what people have seen and heard over the past 10 months.
If we believe that all lives are equal, then we have to do more for these lives. At Direct Relief, we've been working to help train additional medical professionals (like midwives and birth attendants) and provide essential medical resources (like cancer therapies) but much more needs to be done.
Eight months into the outbreak, a dedicated Ebola treatment facility for Sierra Leonean health workers who contract the virus still does not exist. There is a dedicated center for foreign healthcare workers, but Sierra Leonean health workers are not admitted.
The solution to protecting health care workers, a critical component to containing the spread of the Ebola virus, seems simple enough. Get medical staff the gloves, masks, and other protective supplies they need to safely care for patients.
Like the cholera outbreak in Haiti that began four years ago, the current Ebola virus outbreak tells the tale of extreme poverty, a lack of health education, and a dearth of basic healthcare supplies to help treat the people affected and prevent the further spread.
All you have to know to understand the scale of the devastation in Tacloban is that the people of this area, families who have lived their entire lives here, are leaving by the thousands to go start their lives in entirely new cities. The destruction and loss makes it all too overwhelming.