How to Beat Ebola

CONSIDER A FATHER from rural Liberia who shows symptoms of Ebola. There are no health clinics in or near his village, so he and his family make the 10-hour trip to Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, using public transportation, potentially infecting others at every stage of their journey.

They arrive at the city’s public hospital, which is overflowing with patients because the facility is understaffed and underresourced. Staff members don’t have sufficient training or the tools to treat Ebola’s symptoms, the space to isolate infected patients, or the appropriate equipment to protect themselves from danger. They can’t cope with the sheer number of patients—those with the virus or with other illnesses—and the father likely dies.

What if, instead, the father is seen by a community health worker in his village? She notes his fever, vomiting, and diarrhea and knows he needs fluids immediately. The nurse who supervises her concurs, and they begin treatment. In the meantime, the nurse sends word for an ambulance from the nearby clinic to retrieve him, and she tells the family to limit their contact with others and to watch for similar symptoms in themselves for three weeks.

The local clinic is fully staffed and resourced. Doctors and nurses in full protective gear meet the ambulance, take the father to a hospital bed that is placed at some distance from others, and continue administering fluids. Because his community health worker spotted his symptoms early, and because high-quality care is close by, the father likely lives.

EBOLA HAS FLOURISHED because of the first scenario. The countries most affected by the virus are among the poorest in the world and, as we’ve seen, lack the public health infrastructure to cope with the outbreak. But strengthening it is what will change the path and progression of Ebola—or any disease.

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Collateral Murder and Preemptive Love

Artwork by the artist Banksy. Photo by Shane Claiborne.

Artwork by the artist Banksy. Photo by Shane Claiborne.

Today I was catching up on emails and came across two messages that deeply affected me, maybe because I read them back-to-back. 

The first one is from a friend who helped release the “Collateral Murder” video via Wikileaks, showing US troops shooting some unarmed folks in Baghdad, including two children sitting in a van as their family stopped to pick up the wounded and dead.  It is one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking videos I’ve ever seen. Feel free not to watch it.

NOTE:  If you do watch the video inside the blog, please know that it is contains vivid images of war. It was released here: 

The other email message I read was just the opposite. It was about life.

Will the Class of 2012 Head for Main Street or Wall Street?

Harvard University's Annenberg Hall. Photo Copyright 2004 Jacob Rus via Wiki Com

Harvard University's Annenberg Hall. Photo Copyright 2004 Jacob Rus via Wiki Commons.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our education system when the draws of a huge salary and big bonuses consistently trump the aspirations and dreams that were front and center in our lives just four years earlier. Debts, a lack of job opportunities in other fields, your basic standard-issue panic — or maybe a simple absence of imagination can take hold and send us running into the arms of the recruiter with the flashy suit, a Hollywood smile and promise of a better life.

As Terkel reminds us: “Young people will continue to go work in the financial sector as long as its pay is disproportionately higher than alternative careers. It's basic human nature: Follow the money.”

But what would it look like if we didn’t follow the money? What if Wall Street paid no more than schools or hospitals?

What would our economy look like if these leading young minds chose not to work for big banks and consultants, but instead were the teachers that helped turn failing schools around, the innovators and engineers who were designing products that would create thousands of new jobs?

What needs to be done so that the finest members of the 2012 graduating class head to Main Street instead of Wall Street?