Western Africa is currently experiencing the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, and the Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF) in Pittsburgh is asking for donations to help protect the medical staff trying to contain it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola virus disease has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. Nearly 400 people throughout Western Africa have died from the virus since March - including patients and the medical staff taking care of them.
That’s why BBF is asking for cash donations to help ship medical supplies such as gowns, masks, soap and gloves to Sierra Leone.
“Almost 30 medical staff from different hospitals have died caring for these patients as they come in,” Luke Hingson, BBF President, said. “So there’s a tremendous need for the continuing supply of these types of gowns as the disease spreads to different parts of these countries.”
So far, the outbreak has reached Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“It’s the first time in several years that they’ve had an outbreak of this type in Africa,” Hingson said. “There really is no preventative measure, there’s no vaccine for it, there’s every attempt to isolate the patient once they’re diagnosed, so they don’t spread it.”
According to WHO, those with the virus experience fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Those symptoms then escalate into impaired kidney and liver function and sometimes both internal and external bleeding and usually death.
“It frightens everyone around them,” Hingson said. “So there are cases of patients coming into a hospital that have the disease, and then there is a panic, and there’s actually cases of families coming and getting their family members out of the hospitals because of fear, and that can help spread the disease even further.”
According to Hingson, Sierra Leone is unable to provide enough supplies for the medical staff for the outbreak.
“It’s a very poor country, the per capita income there is maybe a thousand dollars a year or so,” Hingson said. “Their ability to buy these supplies, it’s almost impossible to think that they would buy them, their nurses for example maybe are paid $2,000 a year.”
The BBF’s shipment of supplies will be sent to the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone later in July.
Donations can be made through the Brother’s Brother Foundation website, by calling 412-321-3160 or by mail.