West Africa Ebola outbreak loses media coverage


Ebola remains a problem in West Africa. (Photo provided by UNMEER/Martine Perret is licensed under CC by 2.0)

By Kassidy Curry/[email protected]
Arts Editor

The threat of Ebola is nearly diminished within the Western world. Incidentally, so has the news coverage. However, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) situation report on Jan. 21, there have been 710 total confirmed cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within 21 days leading up to Jan. 21st.

“Before, when it first started, everywhere you turned to it’s there,” said African Student Continental Club (ASCC) President Samuel Agada in regards to the first Ebola case in the United States. “Meanwhile, it’s not being covered, but it’s not gone.”

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the three most affected countries of the West Africa outbreak. In these countries, the outbreak has caused a total of 22,101 Ebola cases and 8818 deaths as of Jan. 26. In the United States, there have been a total of four cases and one death. This is not to belittle any individual or their loved ones affected by the disease, but the difference in cases and deaths is so significant. Yet, anyone could see how much the media coverage rose when there was a threat to the United States and the United Kingdom. Now we have seen it quickly deflate now that it no longer threatens these countries.

The Ebola virus has been around since 1976, affecting various countries during different outbreaks. It was previously an East African disease that didn’t spread outside of the region. However, the current West Africa outbreak is one of the worst outbreaks, with 8833 deaths amongst all affected countries. No other outbreak resulted in anything higher than 280 deaths.

Yes it’s true, things hit harder when they’re closer to home. However, that is no excuse to ignore the world around us. In this modern age, the distances between countries doesn’t seem quite as far. Web searches for Ebola peaked worldwide last year when WHO first declared the outbreak to be an international public health emergency. Searches were even more numerous when the first patient in America was diagnosed last October.

Fortunately, things seem to be looking up. In the most recent Central for Disease Control and Prevention update, there have been fewer than 100 new confirmed cases in a week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to The Washington Post, treatment centers built by US Military in Liberia are nearly vacant with the decline of cases. This centers, unfortunately, are recently built and were not available for use when the outbreak was at it’s highest.

“My country Liberia is intensely working on eradicating Ebola,” said former ASCC President Chester Neese.

However great it is that there are fewer cases compared to before, that is still such a large amount of cases. Ebola is a painful disease with a high mortality rate. People in these affected countries have a high risk of catching this disease and, therefore, have a high risk of death. Certainly this warrants some airtime, right?