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What Will it Take to End the Ebola Crisis?

October 2, 2014 by David Trites 0

The world’s worst Ebola outbreak is not subsiding. Current estimates from the World Health Organization indicate more than 6,000 people in West Africa have been sickened and 3,000 killed.

Data shows the infection rate is climbing weekly and officials warn that anywhere from 20,000 to over 1 million could ultimately be infected if there isn’t a serious increase in intervention and treatment.

As the crisis accelerates, things will certainly worsen before they get better. Not since the AIDS epidemic has the U.N. Security Council considered a health crisis to be, “a threat to international peace and security,” and is now urging every nation to provide medical experts and supplies.

Monumental Challenges

The challenges to containing the crisis are enormous. Many of the sick in West Africa are in hiding, afraid to seek medical help. Some villages are violently rejecting attempts of outreach and support.  They are attacking clinics and volunteers, fearing the foreign aid workers are bringing the virus with them. Meanwhile clinics in other villages are so overwhelmed and under resourced they have to turn sick people away. Essential medical supplies and protective gear for medical aid workers are also in short supply.

Sierra Leon decided to confine its 6 million citizens to their homes for three days to give volunteers a chance to find the sick. The brave volunteers and medical experts helping to fight this crisis are working in dangerous conditions. Both physical violence and Ebola have already taken the lives of too many. This is a serious problem for a region that has an extremely low number of doctors to begin with.

The World Health Organization’s Health workforce data shows there is only 1 doctor per every 45,000 people In Sierra Leone. For perspective, the ratio is 1 doctor per 400 people in the USA. That means Sierra Leon has fewer than 150 doctors to care for its 6 million citizens. Losing any of these precious doctors will be a huge setback to the country’s limited healthcare system today and well into the future.

Doctors and volunteers from many other parts of the world have come to help fight the crisis. And as the epidemic worsens, more will be required. Unfortunately, signs of infection can take 10 days. That means the risk that these travelling workers will unknowingly bring Ebola back to their home countries is also rising fast.

Removing Complexity Brings Relief

Thankfully organizations like Direct Relief are working hard to help protect medical and volunteer workers in the field. “We must do all we can to prevent further human tragedy caused by this deadly outbreak and help countries avoid an even deeper setback than has occurred already,” said Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief.

So far, Direct Relief has sent eleven shipments, totaling more than 100 tons of emergency medication and supplies to Ebola hot zones in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and more is on the way. The protective gloves, masks, goggles, and gowns help prevent the virus from spreading through contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, and saliva.

To ensure its humanitarian aid operations run smoothly and efficiently, Direct Relief relies on business software from SAP. “We are a humanitarian organization so all of our systems and data have a very simple purpose – to help people,” said Tighe.

In a crisis situation there is no room for additional complexity. People need to come together and make decisions quickly. Supplies need to be acquired, packaged, and shipped as efficiently as possible. “People require these materials to survive. Handling them in emergency situations requires the speed and precision to do it right and SAP has helped us do that to an extraordinary degree,” said Tighe.

The health and well-being of millions of people is on the line in West Africa. Ending this crisis is going to take the help of many who can simplify the complex. “If you have a system to organize and manage data, you can tackle bigger problems, which is what SAP enables us to do,” said Tighe.

To help Direct Relief fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa please donate here.

Learn more about how Direct Relief has provided over $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid using SAP software:

Photo source: Direct Relief International
This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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