Despite lessons learned from failures during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, vital emergency equipment is still in short supply in the current Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) outbreak, which recently spilled into Uganda. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has pitched in to help, donating $30,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment—an effort that also highlights the dangers of continued preparedness shortcomings.
With over 1,570 deaths since the outbreak began last August, all signs are pointing to the DRC crisis getting much worse before it gets better. Three neighboring countries are also under constant threat, with the first reported Ebola cases emerging last month in Uganda, a country where AHF operates and has 104,899 patients in care.
“Exponentially more lives were lost to Ebola in West Africa [over 11,000 total deaths] because of serious missteps early on by the World Health Organization [WHO]—one being that there weren’t enough supplies on hand to protect health workers,” said AHF Uganda Country Program Manager Henry Magala. “We recently donated medical equipment and supplies to Uganda because this is, shockingly, still an issue. It’s unacceptable that this hasn’t been resolved when tens of thousands cross the DRC/Uganda border every month.”
AHF Uganda Country Program Manager Henry Magala delivers emergency supplies to Ugandan officials. (photo credit: The Observer – Uganda)
AHF has ramped up advocacy directed towards WHO and its Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, by calling for him to step down soon if he cannot produce a more effective strategy for getting the outbreak response on track. The UN’s recent appointment of David Gressly to the new emergency Ebola response coordinator position was welcomed, and although somewhat late, is a promising step forward.
“I was in Sierra Leone after the 2014 outbreak and spoke with survivors who shared their horror stories and who are still suffering from after effects—it was heart breaking. As a world community we have got to do better to prevent these tragedies,” added AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford.
“Our donation should serve as a wake-up call to WHO, the United Nations and the African Union, which still allow medical supplies allocated for Africa to be stockpiled in places like the Middle East—far from where outbreaks are most likely to occur,” added Ford. “Common sense tells us that logistics should be in place to deal with these crises immediately where they happen—but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.”
AHF invites you to learn more about the 2014 Ebola disaster by watching this short documentary, “Ebola—The AHF Response”, and see firsthand how countries and communities are torn apart when we are not prepared for disease outbreaks.