"The Midweek Read": We Have A Problem. . .

By: Deonta Wortham

After enjoying the last few days of our summer vacation Foresight has returned. In our absence it has become clear that there is a problem that is facing the Africa continent, and in particular this problem that has the potential of affecting numerous developmental projects, across the region of West Africa for the next two years.

By now, it should seem quite obvious that I am speaking of the Ebola outbreak that is occurring across the region of West Africa.

 Image Credit: Newsweek

Image Credit: Newsweek

To date, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that there have been a total of 2,240 confirmed and suspected cases and 1,229 deaths, scattered across the nations of Guinea Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. As well as two cases involving Americans – who being treat about a mile and half away from me, here in Atlanta at Emory University’s Hospital- as well a fatal case that took the life of a Spanish priest.  To say that the West African region is currently in the midst of a health crisis would be a dire, dire understatement.  

 Image Credit: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Image Credit: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

This article will not delve into the international community’s response to this pressing matter, nor will it syphon off idea concerning the failure of administering a mass-marketable drug capable of fighting an illness that has been known by the medical community since the 1970s. No, that simply not of this article’s concern – but best believe, sure enough, that topic will be covered by Foresight in the near future!

What is of the utmost concern for Foresight – right now, at this critical juncture of that the African continent is facing in regard to its future – is the impact that the Ebola outbreak will have on developmental programs across the aforementioned West African region.

Today, many non-profits have decided to cease operations in the West African Region due to concerns associated with the recent Ebola outbreak. Some have decided that the time needed to control, contain, and “eliminate” the Ebola illness is too much to continue developmental and experimental programs in the region as it experiences a full blown health crisis. 

 Image Credit: New York Times 

Image Credit: New York Times 

But shouldn't organizations, at this critical moment stand firm and support these nations as they push through this difficult period where both their public health systems, and their governing capabilities are stretched beyond measure? Frankly, I think so.

It must be noted that we are dealing with a serious health crisis, and knowledge of the risks that are associated with that crisis should, undoubtedly, be taken into account when placed in the context of developmental work. But today, at this critical point in time, when the African continent’s future is at stake, the fact that multiple non-profits are “pulling out” of the region, over the next year and a half, simply does not warrant the risks that would come in response to their absence.  

To use the USC’s fight song as a figure of speech, these organizations need to “Fight On”! There is work that needs to be completed, there are lives that need to be touched, there are young minds that need to be educated, and there are communities that NEED help. So; Fight On! Recognize the risks associated with working in this region, but stand firm in your commitment to ensure that change - formidable change - on the African continent does in fact occur. The ball is in your hands, it is time that you make your move.