Americans should focus on African Ebola relief rather than non-existent U.S. outbreak

Opinions Columnist | Public relations senior

National concern about Ebola should be focused more on West African countries.

The largest Ebola outbreak in history started and remains in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There is no outbreak in America. The number of cases in the United States is extremely minimal compared to the reported 10,141 cases in these West African countries.

The Centers for Disease Control scarily project that actual cases are probably two to three times higher than officially reported. This leaves the estimate close to 30,000 cases. So why is there such little aid and coverage to these countries? Many experts have no idea.

According to an Oct. 25 Time Magazine article, data shows that without significantly scaled efforts there will be 170,996 cases of Ebola and 90,122 deaths related to the disease by Dec. 15. However, if there are significantly ramped-up efforts there could be 77,312 prevented cases by the same date.

I have not heard any coverage or seen any commercials for Ebola relief efforts. All that is being reported now is fear of an outbreak here in America. It is pretty simple. Cases are coming to America because of the lack of resources and effort being put into these West African countries.

The first cases of the disease were seen as early as December 2013. No one could have projected this mass epidemic, but some heads should have turned when Doctors Without Borders sent two press releases in June documenting the severity of Ebola in West Africa.

There were brief segments and articles about the outbreak, and full coverage did not start until the first patient was diagnosed in the United States. As usual, it seems as though Americans only care about things when it hits home. There must be a change in the ignorance we have about the outbreak in West Africa.

After more than a handful of cases have shown up in the United States, relief efforts from Americans are nowhere near what is needed. This is strange, since Americans are usually very good at donating to relief efforts for natural disasters. Maybe it is because of the lack of visuals Americans are used to seeing with natural disasters. I am sure no one wants to see mass graves, but perhaps that is what is needed to drive up efforts.

So I am hereby calling out celebrities to start advocating for donations and relief for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Americans seem to listen to celebrities more than any other public figure. According to an Oct. 20 New York Times article, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated $25 million to support the treatment of Ebola victims and their families. This is a good start, but again, more needs to be done.

Literally thousands of lives can be saved with new hospital beds and updated equipment. The outbreak must be contained in order to prevent future cases traveling to other countries. Like most relief efforts, even a dollar helps. Donations can be made at the websites of UNICEF, the CDC and Doctors Without Borders.