The United States, as any other country fell into panic when the first case of Ebola was reported on its soil. The Patient Zero, as we know, was a Liberian American, Thomas Eric Duncan who flew into the country from Liberia. There was a little anger about the handling of the ‘patient zero’ with many condemning the health system for failing to take the patient’s travel record into account while initially treating him. This development prompted the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) into action, to ensure that an outbreak was prevented. The C.D.C even sent a group of experts to Nigeria to learn how the country was able to contain the virus, since the World Health Organization had earlier declared Nigeria Ebola free.
Now, a Dallas health worker, a nurse to be precise has been infected with the virus after been involved with treating Thomas Duncan. This has again sparked more anger and speculations that the United States is not ready or well prepared to deal with Ebola on its soil. The Director of CDC, Dr Thomas Friedman came under serious fire and was heavily criticized for blaming the nurse. He said in a press release that a ‘breach i protocol’ on the path of the nurse resulted in her contracting the disease. But critics, whom I agree with, were fast to point out that he was ‘scape-goating’ the nurse instead of dealing with his agency’s failure to introduce a rigorous set of procedures for hospitals across the country.
Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and a disaster relief expert at National Nurses United said, ‘when there’s an outbreak, you don’t scape goat anyone! We have a system failure. That is what we have to correct.’
Dr. Macgregor-Skinner, who helped the Nigerian government train healthcare workers when the Liberian man, Patrick Sawyer brought Ebola to the country said;
‘Blaming the nurse is just wrong. We haven’t provided them with a national training program. We haven’t provided them with the necessary experts that have actually worked in hospitals with Ebola,’
It is obvious, however, that there have been institutional failures in handling the Ebola crisis in America. This, to me, might be a little forgivable giving that the U.S has never witnessed any Ebola case and their health workers are not well trained and equipped to handle Ebola victims. However, for a country which has spent millions of dollars in aiding Ebola hit countries in West Africa like Liberia and Sierra Leone, better prevention and preparation for any outbreak should have been done. For instance, How come the health workers didn’t take into account Thomas Duncan’s travel history? Why didn’t they test him for Ebola when he showed similar symptoms, having told them he came in from Liberia, one of the worst hit Ebola countries? Instead, they just treated him normally and discharged him. The answer is obvious! They were not at alert. They possibly felt that Ebola wasn’t a direct threat to them or would come knocking on their door steps. They obviously know better.
America, however cannot afford anymore institutional failures as it may prove disastrous. A second person is already being kept under close monitoring after having close contact with the infected nurse and 48 other health workers might have also been exposed to the deadly virus. The CDC director also said that more cases of Ebola could be seen in coming days. So, Ebola in the US is no child’s play and everything should be done to kick it out, as Nigeria successfully did.