We depart from our usual dose of weekly stories to bring you an exclusive, first person account on the war on Ebola in West Africa from my friend, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel. Jorge spent the months of November and December 2014 in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. As the chief technical adviser to the United Nations (UN) on medical waste, he was requested to go to Africa to develop guidelines for dealing with Ebola-infected waste and train hospital staff and waste-disposal workers on its safe management.
Jorge’s account is not only very informative on symptoms, statistics and scenarios (political, social, economical, medical) for every country affected, but also very emotional and powerful as he meets children who are suddenly orphaned, patients arriving in wheelbarrows, pilots paying for gas from their own pockets in order to fly aid workers, local and foreign medical workers, including Filipinos.
There are many heroes in the fight to contain and eradicate Ebola in the region, from the doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers to the funeral staffers and waste-disposal workers. We can only imagine what it was like for those who died, for those who risked their lives and for those who survived only to find out they have no family left. I personally want to thank all of them for their courage and bravery.
And to my friend, Jorge, thank you for what you are and what you do. I am so proud of you, my fellow Pinoy. When we see each other next, I will gladly shake your hand. No need for an elbow bump.