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DAILYKENN.com — Western culture saved the lives of millions of black Africans by containing the Ebola virus.
Time for a replay.
The deadly virus re-emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in April. The U.S. government is preparing for a direct response.
Western technology is again being tapped to save the lives of millions of blacks in Africa.
From The Hill ▼
In all eight of the previous known Ebola outbreaks in Congo, the virus has been contained within remote jungle villages or relatively small towns, where isolated populations are less likely to spread the disease.
But the Congo River is effectively the region’s highway system. Barges and boats travel from Kisangani in the east through major cities including Bumba, Mbandaka — and eventually Kinshasa, the capital of Congo and home to more than 11 million people, as well as Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo.
“The Congo River connects three national capitals and multiple other large cities,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance during the 2014-2015 outbreak. “The fact that there are now several cases in an urban center of more than a million people underscores the potential for this outbreak to get out of control.”
If the Ebola virus traveled upriver from Bikoro to Mbandaka, some officials wonder, has it also traveled downstream toward Kinshasa, which offers direct air traffic to cities including Brussels, Paris, Dubai and Lagos, Nigeria?
“We don’t know what’s happening along the river, because the river is used by a lot of barges,” said Pierre Rollin, one of the world’s leading experts on the Ebola virus at the CDC. “None of the outbreaks have been by the river or in the big towns. So we have a lot of caution before claiming we know what’s going on.”
Previous outbreaks have been snuffed out in the Congo, Rollin said, because the area is so remote that humans did not have a chance to travel far enough to transmit the virus before succumbing.
That was not the case four years ago in West Africa, where the virus spread widely across international boundaries. Commercial and cultural travel throughout Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — across borders drawn a century and a half ago by colonizers with little regard for traditional tribal boundaries — is far more common than it is in Congo.
The present outbreak has raised anew questions about WHO and its capacity to respond to deadly viral threats. Following the West Africa outbreak, when the ill-prepared WHO endured withering criticism for its lackluster response to the initial round of cases, the agency has undergone a remarkable round of self-flagellation, reorganizing to prioritize emergency preparedness and response while cutting bureaucracy.
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