U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers are nearly empty

Workers at an Ebola treatment center relax Jan. 10, 2015 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. The facility was built by the U.S. military. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post

Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.

There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.

The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.

It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day.

“If they had been built when we needed them, it wouldn’t have been too much,” said Moses Massaquoi, the Liberian government’s chairman for Ebola case management. “But they were too late.”

It was impossible to predict the decline in the Ebola caseload last September, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested a worst-case scenario of 1.4 million victims in West Africa. At that point, the American military’s logistical and engineering prowess appeared to be urgently needed — even if critics said the assistance was slow to arrive.

“With that kind of dire prediction from the CDC, and not having seen anything like this before, we had to try everything at our disposal,” said Douglas Mercado, the top USAID official in Liberia.

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After years of research and a series of unpleasant experiences concerning the current child protection services system, Alec Cope decided to combat the cancerous corruption through information. Freelance writing articles as a form of protest and distributing them throughout his former high-school and local area, Alec struck special chords with whomever he was in contact with.

Alec has been involved in activism such as sit down protests as well as Idle No More gatherings. Being independent for the majority of his time, Alec became a member of the WeAreChange family to assist one of the organizations that inspired him to become active in the first place. With a larger platform and positive support Alec has committed the majority of his time to research, writing, and maintaining social media with the goal to continue expanding the awakening sweeping throughout all levels of society.

Growing up within a rural area in Northern Michigan as well as being a native American descendant, Alec is seeking to expose environmental abuse in his state as well as globally. A high-school dropout, Alec chases his passion for writing and empowering individuals while showing any isolated person that they too can overcome the odds with a community that will support them. Alec lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan near Kalamazoo.





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