Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to be treated at home

Officials in Sierra Leone are admitting that they have suffered a "defeat" in trying to fight the spread of Ebola in that country and are prepared to begin helping families tend to patients at home who have caught the virus because there simply aren't enough beds to handle the crush of cases.

New York Times:

The decision signifies a significant shift in the struggle against the rampaging disease. Officials said they would begin distributing painkillers, rehydrating solution and gloves to hundreds of Ebola-afflicted households in Sierra Leone, contending that the aid arriving here was not fast or extensive enough to keep up with an outbreak that doubles in size every month or so.

“It’s basically admitting defeat,” said Dr. Peter H. Kilmarx, the leader of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s team in Sierra Leone, adding that it was “now national policy that we should take care of these people at home.”

“For the clinicians it’s admitting failure, but we are responding to the need,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “There are hundreds of people with Ebola that we are not able to bring into a facility.”

The effort to prop up a family’s attempts to care for ailing relatives at home does not mean that officials have abandoned plans to increase the number of beds in hospitals and clinics. But before the beds can be added and doctors can be trained, experts warn, the epidemic will continue to grow.

C.D.C. officials acknowledged that the risks of dying from the disease and passing it to loved ones at home were serious under the new policy — “You push some Tylenol to them, and back away,” Dr. Kilmarx said, describing its obvious limits.

But many patients with Ebola are already dying slowly at home, untreated and with no place to go. There are 304 beds for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone now, but 1,148 are needed, the World Health Organization reported this week. So officials here said there was little choice but to try the new approach as well.

This highlights the pitiful response of the international community to this disaster. It's been two months since it became clear that the virus was out of control in Sierra Leone and many western countries have yet to contribute adequately to the crisis. The US response has been good - a little late also - but nations like Germany, Japan, and France have barely responded.

Once again, it looks like the rest of the world is going to force America to do the heavy lifting in dealing with a humanitarian crisis. Only in this case, it's not going to be enough.

 

Officials in Sierra Leone are admitting that they have suffered a "defeat" in trying to fight the spread of Ebola in that country and are prepared to begin helping families tend to patients at home who have caught the virus because there simply aren't enough beds to handle the crush of cases.

New York Times:

The decision signifies a significant shift in the struggle against the rampaging disease. Officials said they would begin distributing painkillers, rehydrating solution and gloves to hundreds of Ebola-afflicted households in Sierra Leone, contending that the aid arriving here was not fast or extensive enough to keep up with an outbreak that doubles in size every month or so.

“It’s basically admitting defeat,” said Dr. Peter H. Kilmarx, the leader of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s team in Sierra Leone, adding that it was “now national policy that we should take care of these people at home.”

“For the clinicians it’s admitting failure, but we are responding to the need,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “There are hundreds of people with Ebola that we are not able to bring into a facility.”

The effort to prop up a family’s attempts to care for ailing relatives at home does not mean that officials have abandoned plans to increase the number of beds in hospitals and clinics. But before the beds can be added and doctors can be trained, experts warn, the epidemic will continue to grow.

C.D.C. officials acknowledged that the risks of dying from the disease and passing it to loved ones at home were serious under the new policy — “You push some Tylenol to them, and back away,” Dr. Kilmarx said, describing its obvious limits.

But many patients with Ebola are already dying slowly at home, untreated and with no place to go. There are 304 beds for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone now, but 1,148 are needed, the World Health Organization reported this week. So officials here said there was little choice but to try the new approach as well.

This highlights the pitiful response of the international community to this disaster. It's been two months since it became clear that the virus was out of control in Sierra Leone and many western countries have yet to contribute adequately to the crisis. The US response has been good - a little late also - but nations like Germany, Japan, and France have barely responded.

Once again, it looks like the rest of the world is going to force America to do the heavy lifting in dealing with a humanitarian crisis. Only in this case, it's not going to be enough.