Monday, 13 October 2014

Fear and Food for thought.

A friend posted an incredulous comment that people from West Africa were allowed to travel on planes on her Facebook page. I did notice apparently people in the US and Spain were still allowed on planes, even though they have Ebola too.

I will admit I had that knee jerk reaction when our plane announced prior to landing that anyone who had been in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea and Liberia in the past 30 days were to present themselves at Customs for Quarantine clearance into Singapore. "What?! They've been on the plane? What?! It's too late, we'll all have it!" (I would like to say I'm exaggerating but that over the top panic was exactly what went through my head. However, I have learnt that when ever you think or argue in terms of "THEY" (that nameless, faceless "THEM"), rather than specifics, you probably need to research a little more).

When you look at the cases vs populations of these countries, it is less than 1 percent of the total population. So her logic is 99 percent of the population should have their passports confiscated, just in case?

I'm not saying this is not a horrific situation with potential for global plague proportions. What I'm saying is we need to be doing the right things about it. We need to direct our concern into something useful. Quickly.

One of the major food delivery companies stopped deliveries to the supermarkets in some of the affected regions - and while I totally understand that, I wouldn't want to make those deliveries if it was my job or my husband's, it does mean it's harder to quarantine and isolate the disease. If people now travel for food and supplies, or enterprising people are moving into the region to sell food, then the disease will move into other regions, and so infection grows. How can we minimise the spread of infection?

What is being done to protect the people with the knowledge and expertise in the field of this type of disease, because the unfortunate side effect is, that those with the most experience are also the highest risk of infection, as previous mourned on this blog?

Those types of questions are more urgent to ask. Of course, those practicalities on the ground in a continent far away don't really impact me. Keeping 'them' off a plane does. I guess the difference is, do we worry about it not being our problem, or do we worry about stopping it being a problem?

Ebola is horrific. It is hard to contain. It is necessary to contain it to stop it spreading across the globe. Maybe we all should be grounded for a bit until it passes. Or at least put our thinking into something productive that will contain the disease, and the people at risk of infection.

There is nothing wrong with being scared. It's a very scary situation. If you are feeling panic, then get out your credit card and give generously. Medecins Sans Frontieres are on the ground and doing great work where it is needed. It is far more useful and productive than sounding alarm on Facebook. Spread the word on giving aid. If anyone raises the topic, ask them if they've donated. Make a difference.

This is not sponsored, I admire their work, you are welcome to link other organisations on the ground that are trying to battle the spread of this disease.

Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF

PS Since I wrote this, the world has gone into a frenzy over 'no letting them fly'. If we learnt anything from Bird flu, the disease travels faster than the health warnings, so the only way for that to be effective is to let NO ONE fly, regardless of what country they are coming from. No one in and no one out (even returning citizens).

There has been talk of breaking protocol. The problem is the majority of countries don't have protocol on this, the US included. You shouldn't wait to get the disease to them implement protocol. You should have it in place prior to getting the disease. Singapore apparently does, Europe and Australia don't. Implimented with Bird Flu, there are airports & ferry terminals where you still walk through a machine that registers your temperature. This would be a very useful protocol to implement prior to boarding, but how you distinguish between normal flu and colds, I don't know.

Liberia shut it's borders (no one in, no one out) and at the same time, they made government restrictions on public gatherings. This was a warning at the height of the bird flu, remember? I am curious why that hasn't been jumped on again? Maybe because we feel safer and less inconvenienced if we make the solution 'don't let them fly, close the borders to them' rather than we have to forgo our concerts and other entertainments.

Lastly, there is a flurry of people saying that it's spread differently to how they're saying - that the 'government' are telling us lies about how it spreads. We have known how it's spread since the '70's, so rule that out. The bodies wouldn't still be contagious after death if it was airborne (though the droplets can fly through the air with a cough).
The reason why people should getting frantic about the nurse on the plane is because it can then have spread to not just where she went, but potentially to where other passengers went on their connecting flights, thus impossible to contain. Not being on the plane itself.

There is a good article in the SMH where the writer says that this is a case where throwing money at the problem will actually help. So maybe it's time we think about that instead.


  1. I'm scared by the threat of Ebola. Thought and care really needs to be considered to help minimise the spread, I agree. We really need to get a handle on it immediately. I'm not sure how I feel about the no flying thing. Some people just have to but if it's something that is going to take down the worlds population then perhaps we need to get serious about it.... donating sounds like the only wise thing at this stage. Thanks for creating awareness that we can do this.

  2. This is one of things I don't want to think about. I like to bury my head in the sand about stuff like this. Great post.

  3. I used to work in international development and we often got frustrated by well-meaning peeps who'd want to send toys and clothes overseas. It meant that someone then needed to fundraise to pay to get this stuff over there - when (in reality) the same things could be bought cheaply in neighbouring countries. Of course no one ever wants to turn down the generosity of others but... MONEY was what was needed.

  4. It's just horrific the entire situation, and it's amazing that we don't have things set up for these kind of situations.
    I keep hoping that they can somehow make a vaccine, but is that just wishful thinking?

  5. I did hear Canada are about to start human trials on a vaccine. Fingers crossed. I also heard an Australian philanthropist donated 25 million dollars to a cause connected to helping Africa. It's a generous start.

  6. Fingers crossed for a solution soon - I am saddened by the thought that if Ebola broke out in the US everyone would be throwing money at it and it seems that because it is Liberia no one seems to care... these things are global problems and we need to start thinking of them as such!

  7. The only upshot to this epidemic is that people are talking about it. Yes, the discussion centres around the fact that we don't want to get it, but we're still talking.... Hopefully people are donating to the right charities as a result. X

  8. I am not even going to say my thoughts on the subject cause of the reaction I will get!!!
    But I will say this.....the media hypes up so much on any story - what we need is the truth behind the story - that way the fear is taken out of the situation no matter what the subject is about!!

  9. I agree with Lisa, we need more information and less hype. It's hard to believe what any of the news sites are saying because all of the information is shrouded in so much hype.

  10. I was reading Andrew Bolt's Daily Telegraph while waiting for my coffee this morning. What a heartless, heartless man. Completely shutting down Tanya Plibersek's suggestion to send medical professions to help these African countries as a means to actually help our situation.
    He's using that fear factor to have people think the Government's doing the right thing by not doing anything.
    When are the developed countries going to do something proactive and work on a global cooperative level? When it's too late?

  11. So glad you're having this discussion, because I really think the West is having the strangest reaction to Ebolla compared to other diseases and I suspect it's to do with Hollywood.