THE BLOG

Stopping Ebola by Land, Water and Air

02/18/2015 10:18 am ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

2015-02-17-leaving_village2.jpg

Photo credit: Justin Williams/CDC

Speed is paramount in our response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as we continue to be vigilant in the fight to extinguish Ebola.

The faster we get to communities with suspected cases, the faster we protect the people there. That gets us closer to stopping this epidemic -- and protecting people here in the United States and throughout the world.

But speed is a relative term.

In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, there are thousands of small villages that can only be reached after many hours of walking down a footpath. Sometimes just getting to that footpath involves hours of travel using motorbikes, four-wheel drive vehicles, or small handmade boats or canoes.

CDC staff is up to the challenge and that is why we continue to partner with communities and private donors, like those who funded the purchase of motorbikes, to find innovative ways to reach people and stamp out the threat of Ebola.

Nearly 1,000 our agency's highly trained public health professionals have helped stop the epidemic in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, traveling by whatever means necessary to fight the epidemic and build a better future for all of West Africa.

They travel over dirt roads so muddy and pitted that vehicles slide sideways, tossing passengers up and down and from side to side during journeys lasting several hours. They ride in unsteady canoes with the possibility a crocodile could be swimming nearby. They enter villages where they're uncertain how welcome they'll be.

It's not work for the faint of heart. It's work done by professionals with hearts of gold -- people who inspire me and those they work with.