By Kesete Birhan Admasu (MD)
Our health workers have arrived safely in Sierra Leone and Liberia. They will undergo a two-week training program before they embark on the fight against the dead Ebola virus disease. Another cohort of 20 or so health professionals will also depart for West Africa next week. This makes Ethiopia the largest African contributor of health professionals to the Ebola mission.
The deployment of volunteers is in response to a call made by the African Union to its member states as there is critical shortage of health workforce in the affected countries. As many experts on the ground agree, the Ebola outbreak is reaching its tipping point. If we ramp up the response considerably, there is good evidence that the virus could be stopped.
On the other hand, if complacency sets in or the response dwindles down, we will be facing a potentially chronic problem with high probability of spread to the rest of the continent and the globe at large. That is why the deployment of volunteer health workers by member states through the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) mechanism is so critical and timely in turning the tide against this deadly disease.
The decision by the Government of Ethiopia to deploy health professionals to West Africa demonstrates the solidarity of African alliance in protecting our citizens. It is also to the best of our national interest to fight the disease at its source rather than waiting for the virus to strike home. There is high degree of mobility of people in Africa and our borders are porous.
So, wait and see is not the right approach to contain the disease. As Madam Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, eloquently put it we as Africans are not free until all affected countries are free of the virus.
Read more at: The Reporter