By Amanda Jesse
In case we have forgotten, Ebola is not over. Oddly enough, the disease itself did not just disappear overnight the way American media coverage of it did. Yes, it is true that there are no more Ebola cases in America, but that does not mean others aren’t still fighting the disease.
Eight countries have reported cases of Ebola in 2014. Of those eight, three are still battling the outbreak. Liberia is the only one of the two whose reported cases have seen a significant decrease since November. Both Guinea and Sierra Leone, however, have had an increase in reported cases in this time span. In fact, Sierra Leone reported 537 new cases in the week leading up to Nov. 30. Sadly, the World Health Organization believes this to be an underestimate due to the difficulty in reporting these cases.
Chances are, you probably did not know that. Why? Where is the nightly Ebola update on the news these days? Does no one truly care anymore since it no longer affects American lives on American soil? The story only gained national attention after American doctor Kent Brantly was flown to Atlanta for treatment earlier this year after he contracted the disease. It caught like wildfire when cases popped up in Dallas. Everyone was hooked on the panic for a bit, looking up Ebola symptoms and checking on relatives. Everyone loved the feel-good story when it was over and the survivors were united on the Today show.
There were eight total Ebola cases in the U.S., eight cases that earned months and months of media attention and fanfare, while 537 cases in one week in Sierra Leone developed with hardly a whisper.
You could make the case that it really is not any of our business. Let these other countries work it out for themselves. We did our part, sending aid, money and professionals — but how could we say we did all we could do when every day the problem worsens in these two countries in West Africa?
Even if there really is nothing more we can do, that does not mean there is no more reason to care. Care because there are actual human beings, individuals with families and friends, hopes and aspirations, who are dying on a massive scale. Care because their lives should not fade away unnoticed. Care because each and every one of those 537 people diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone just a few weeks ago has a family who is desperate for them to live, has a dream they have yet to see fulfilled, has a story worthy of the Today show. It matters that these people exist. It matters that they live, and it matters that they die. Even if we cannot save their lives or make all their dreams come true, we can care.