Tag Archives: Liberia

USE THE BLOOD OF EBOLA SURVIVORS


I was on my normal routine reading through the online news of some local and international media. Since the intensity of the Ebola outbreak, my visits to the online features have increased. I searched with the expectation of reading encouraging news in relation to curbing the epidemic. Prior to my search, I understood that a group of global experts via the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting on the Ebola epidemic. High on the agenda were discussions on the use of experimental therapies to combat the disease that has snatched the lives of over 2000 persons in West Africa. I went online to abreast myself with the outcome of the meeting. While searching, I came across a news caption ” Use Ebola Survivors’ Blood- WHO” on BBC News. It sounded interesting. In as much vaccines are under human tests, the Zmapp doses are running or have run out of stock, there is still a therapy to hope on in addition to the supportive care given to patients.

In a week or two prior to this welcoming news, I watched the Nova Documentary on the blood transfusion therapy on Liberia’s National Television station. According to the documentary, the therapy was used by some Congolese doctors in 1995 at the Kikwit General Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When one of the nurses working at the treatment center in Kikwit contracted the disease, the Congolese doctors told themselves that they will do everything within their reach to save the life of their fellow health worker. On a night, they convened a meeting of only Congolese doctors to find a medical means to save the ill nurse. They agreed to infuse the blood of an Ebola survivor into the nurse. The meeting outcome was brought before the international health workers working at the same treatment center.The foreign health workers rejected the suggestion on grounds that there was not advance equipment to test the survivor’s blood for all other diseases. They furthered that the therapy had never been performed in such situation and there was no guarantee that it would work. The local doctors had no other option, but persisted and conducted the transfusion. In some hours, there was some improvements in the nurse’s health. The doctors further conducted the therapy on eight patients including the nurse. Seven of the eight patients recovered. After seeing the documentary, I asked myself “aren’t doctors using similar therapy in countries affected by the disease?”. There was a 87.5% survival rate of the eight ill persons the therapy was used on . ” Why would not it be positive on patients in West Africa?” I asked myself. Some reports had it that a 14 year old survivor serum was used to treat Dr. Kent Brantly when he got infected prior to his departure to the US for further treatment. I got reports that he was able to take shower before departing Liberia and also walked out of the ambulance that carried him from the airport to the treatment center in the US. Is the survivor blood transfusion therapy being used to treat many people in affected countries?

WHO approval of the therapy had me saying ” the Congolese health workers that conducted the first transfusion are the inventors and they need to be thanked”. If not for their bravery and persistence, I doubt whether we would had known about such treatment. Even though it is not widely known in West Africa, but I am of the conviction that it will surely work pointing to the success the therapy had in Congo. If there are rewards to be given to inventors such as these, I think institutions responsible should begin planning the award ceremony for the Congolese health workers who braved the odds to experiment such therapy.

The disease has killed many people in West Africa. The weak health systems and traditional practices in Africa are impeding the fight to exterminate the disease out of Africa. With advances being made to finding vaccines and drugs for this illness, I believe that the approved therapy will help in curing people from the disease. Health workers in these affected countries should be urged to begin or resume the transfusion of survivors’ blood into patients with all the precautions taken into consideration. I am not a medical practitioner, but I do trust the judgement of WHO. I am convinced that this therapy will yield fruitful results. I laud the efforts of WHO in ensuring that medications are discovered and made available to help end this epidemic and prevent subsequent outbreaks. I also applaud the works of local and international health workers who are on the frontlines combating the disease, scientists studying to produce medication, and governments and institutions rendering support to help eradicate the disease. It should be noted that the easiest and most effective way to fighting this disease is by prevention. Staying away from infected patients and bodies, washing hands very often, stopping the consumption of bush meats and bats, and reporting suspected cases are all means of preventing ourselves. If we can implement these simple precautionary methods, I am of the opinion that not one more person will get infected with the virus. We all are hoping and praying we succeed in this fight very soon and go back to normality to alleviate the fears and suffering of people.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VOLUNTEERISM AND EMPLOYMENT


People all around the world have challenges with unemployment. Situations in developing or undeveloped countries as regards unemployment are in some ways different from those in developed countries. In underdeveloped or developing countries, the issue of high illiteracy, weak economy, bad governance and other vices extremely hinder the employment of people especially the youth. The bottom line is that unemployment exists in every society. Individuals search for means to secure employment and governments holistically search for other means to reduce their countries unemployment rate. Some of the efforts to reduce unemployment is manifested in the promotion of volunteerism.For this paper, I like to look at the relationship between volunteering and employment. Does volunteering automatically secure employment for volunteers? Are there benefits in volunteering? It will also give tips on volunteerism.

There are various definitions for volunteering and employment. Volunteering is defined in the UK as ‘… an activity that involves spending unpaid time doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than (or in addition to) close relatives’ (Ellis Paine, A., McKay S. and Moroet D. 2013). Wikipedia defines volunteering as an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return this Activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved for the individual.With these definitions, the grasp of key words or phrases like “unpaid time”, “benefits to environment or individuals or groups” , “altruistic activity” and “no financial gain” are all important in knowing the detail meaning of volunteering. I like to view volunteering as positively contributing to society through the use of one’s knowledge without the intent of receiving pay. This involves working at institutions or other places where society or environment benefits from the work of the volunteer. In a simpler way, I look at employment as acquiring pay for work done but not necessarily contributing to the society or environment.

There are some thoughts as to the relationship between volunteerism and employment. Some media have supported the notion that volunteering increases the prospects of securing job (ABC video, 2009; CBS News, 2011; US News, 2012; or Smart Money, 2011). Governments including the United States Federal Government via its Department of Labor also furthers similar idea. The Corporation for National and Community Service in its publication (Spera, C.; Ghertner, R., Nerino, A., DiTommaso, A. 2013), mentioned this statement from the former Secretary of Labor of the United States Government (“volunteerism can be a way to help unemployed workers expand their network of contacts, improve their résumés, and make a positive impression in a competitive job market.” Hilda S. Solis). The Nigerian and Liberian Governments through their National Youth Service and President Young Professional Programs respectively, are volunteer programs that back such idea. Additionally, the UK government through the Work Together, which is a pilot voluntary work scheme for unemployed youth in London and the Olympics Employment and Skill Strategy encourage or require the unemployed to do voluntary job. I also nurtured the same idea. Many young people, labor and human resource professionals have also pushed the idea that volunteering guarantees a job. I was shocked with the result I found after a research was done on the “relationship between the volunteerism and Employment.

The research found that there is no empirical or statistical data or research that has proven that volunteerism increases the prospects of securing job contrary to the thoughts of many.The relationship between employment and volunteering cannot be determined (Jorgensen H., 2013) . In her research paper ( Kamerāde D. 2013), she apprised that the majority of the unemployed voluntary volunteering does not significantly raise the chances of getting a job. Her research also stressed that volunteering has a weak or negative effect on the prospects of the majority of unemployed people in finding a new job. This research was prepared to question the extent to which empirical evidence supports this assumption that volunteering during unemployment is a stepping stone to paid work. There are many other researches that have proven against the global assumptions that volunteering is a conduit or stepping stone to getting job.

This article is not meant to discourage you from volunteering. In as much that there is no statistical finding that points to the high chances of securing paid job through volunteering, there are some isolated situations where volunteering at institutions brought about some entry jobs for the unemployed. More besides, there are other benefits volunteering accrues for volunteers.

Benefits for the Volunteer

Volunteering benefits the volunteer. The volunteer acquires new employability skills , build networks and CVs, and try new vocations ( Ellis Paine, A., et al. 2013; Kamerāde D. 2013; and Jorgensen H., 2013).

Employability Skills

Work environment varies from institution to institution. Volunteering usually gives the volunteer diverse ideas in getting work done. When this is done continuously, the volunteer becomes adapted to the modus operandi of that task and work environment thus learning new skills. These new skills prepare the volunteer for the world of employment. If given a paid job, the acquired skills from volunteering can be used to get the paid job done.

Build Network

Obviously, when you enter a new place, you get to meet other people you have not met before. This is the same with volunteering. When you volunteer at a new place, you get to meet people for the first time. Your new acquaintances can range from professionals within your career circle or other careers, new career chasers and those that have not yet began their career.Usually, these are people that supervise you, you supervise, you volunteer with, or volunteer for ( bosses) . They become your workmates. Your interactions via work or other professional means allows you to get to know them better and they also get to know you more. This builds your contacts not only with professionals but other individuals in the middle or down the career ladder. You never know. These are contacts that become important in securing a pay job or recommending you for a job. There are several instances of people using contacts from their volunteering job to secure employment not only at their volunteering institution but also at other institutions. It is always positive to keep good relationship with all contacts where you volunteer. It often pays off.

Building of CVs or Resumes

In recruitment, many employers will prefer an employee that has had prior experience in the field or area for which that employee is to be employed. The employer might not necessary require experience from a previous paid job. Volunteering helps to achieve this. This is important for people that have no prior job experience. Most inexperience people indicate volunteer jobs on their CVs or resumes. This indicates to would-be employers that you have had prior job experience. If the job requires prior experience, the experience from the volunteered job could aid in securing the paid job. I usually recommend that whether experienced or inexperienced, it is important to mentioned on your CV or resume, those important volunteer jobs you have done. It does not only show that you have some experience but indicates that you care for society and acquiring compensation from job is not a very high priority. The volunteer might have other internal reasons but many employers reason from that perspective. Caring about the society will depend on the institution you volunteer for. Usually, volunteering for charitable institutions shows that you care about society or environment. Many institutions or governments relate volunteerism to charitable or not- for- profit institutions. Most sponsored training applications and scholarships highly welcome applicants that volunteers for the society or environment. So, sharing with people and institutions verbally and via your CV or profile about your volunteer jobs and experiences, are very paramount in climbing the career ladder.

New Vocation or Occupation

Volunteering helps volunteers to choose their career pathway. When you volunteer, you try different types of task, meet with people and also grow work confidence. These compounded experiences help you to sometimes discover your inner passion from the various task performed, and also talking to peers and professionals in the same field. A youth camp volunteer wrote “I did not know I could speak in public and lead people until now. Thank you for allowing me to volunteer”. This volunteer was unaware that he was good at leading people until he volunteered as a camp worker. He has since gone to pursue a career in Human Resource Management to strengthen his abilities in motivating and leading people.

From a research standpoint, there is no statistical finding that points to the increase chances of acquiring employment through volunteering. Government, media, individuals that sponsor such idea that volunteering secures the volunteer a paid job are actually based on assumptions and are meant to encourage people to volunteer. Volunteering is a great tool to contributing to society. From the above reading, you have understood that there are benefits that volunteers accrued from volunteering. The building of networks, resumes and finding new occupations are some benefits volunteers acquire from volunteering. These benefits competitively prepare volunteers for employment. I do support the act of volunteering. People that are beginning to build their career and are unemployed should consider volunteering. Volunteer is an easy means of building your career until employment comes.

” YES!” TO THE USE OF EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS


I woke up this morning to the loud ringtone of my phone. I got up and ran to the table to pickup the call. I picked-up the phone and saw a familiar number calling. The caller asked ” can I have an interview with you”? I replied asking what the interview was about . The would-be interviewer informed me that there are reports that the government of Liberia via its President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has communicated with the United States Government via President Obama, for the use of the experimental drug (Zmapp). Indeed, the United States Government through its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consented to Liberia’s request to use the drug on two Liberian doctors. I agreed to have the interview later. Subsequently, I ran to my ipad switched on the Internet and quickly reached for the Front Page Africa website to get myself apprised. Front Page Africa carried the story confirming my would-be interviewer’s information. Additionally, I understood that the World Health Organization (WHO) also agreed to send additional doses of the experimental serum to Liberia.

After reading the article, the moment was like ” wow! Is this really happening?”. In my previous article named, Cater to Health Workers, I stressed the need for the Liberian government to ask the United States government for the possible usage of the experimental drug in Liberia. So I was elated by the news.

In little discussions, people were analyzing the negatives and positives of the used of the drug in Liberia. Some asserted that the drug has only been used on two humans that contracted the Ebola Virus in Liberia. Even though it proved to be working well on the two American Health Workers, but is that sufficient to think that same will happen to the two Liberian doctors or others that will be treated with the drug?Already there are thoughts in some corridors of Africa, that the West experiments on Africans which subsequently results into such disease as the Ebola Virus. In addition, some health experts have advised that the used of experimental drugs is not the best way to curbing this epidemic. They stressed the need for prevention, awareness, quarantining and contact tracing.

In my little corner, I began to analyze their comments from a different viewpoint. The disease has a 60 to 90% mortality rate which indicates that a victim has between 10 to 40% survival rate. The chances of death is higher than the chances of living. Additionally, the medication has been tested on two persons and has shown to be working positively. Why not have something ( the Zmapp drug) to hope on for survival than nothing at all? In as much I am not a health expert, talk less of being a health practitioner, but I am of the opinion that in addition to prevention, awareness, quarantining and contact tracing, the use of experimental drug helps in exterminating the virus. If the drug is not experimented, how do we know its positive workability? I think this is a way to go and I join hands with the WHO to overwhelmingly support the use of Zmapp or TMZ-Ebola with the consent of patients or family members.

The swift intervention of the President of Liberia to request for the drug, and the acceptance of the President of the United States of America and FDA are all commendable. The United States support in this regard and other directions that center on fighting this disease shows its unflinching interest in eradicating this epidemic from Liberia. The Chinese government should also be commended for its support through the supply of equipment and drugs to Liberia, and the West African Region affected by the virus. This donation shows the Chinese people deep interest in seeing an Ebola free Liberia and West African Region.