The Convergence of the Twain: Africa and the rest of us

Aug 3, 2014

The sight of an American, stricken with the Ebola virus, transported back to the U.S. for care has reminded many Americans that Africa is part of our world, much as many of us might choose to ignore it. The decision by the Peace Corps to evacuate Peace Corps Volunteers from some of the affected nations reminded even more American families that their sons and daughters abroad are at some risk in venturing to Africa to help with development projects.

It is an odd confluence of events this week, when President Obama will host African heads of state in a summit meeting to discuss improving trade ties and enhancing development on the African continent. Of course, there are the lame brains like Donald Trump who tweet out fear and hysteria over treating the Ebola victims in the United States. If Trump spent any time at the village level in any African country, he would know that those patients are best served by placing them in an environment where they can receive the best care the latest technology can provide. That’s not the case in much of Africa.

The Centers for Disease Control has committed to sending an additional 50 experts to the region to assist in trying to stem the spread of the Ebola virus. One of the saddest results of the outbreak is that many doctors—in a region starved for doctors—have been the first to succumb to the virus. When there is a shortage of trained medical personnel, some Africans resort to medicine men and sorcerers (and other nontraditional means) to challenge illness. Although I saw firsthand in Chad spells work miraculously, Ebola will demand a more coordinated, integrated, science-based approach for Africa—and for us—to win this battle