Two years ago, as Americans were celebrating our independence with hotdogs and fireworks, West Africa was nearing the peak of the most deadly Ebola outbreak the world has ever faced.
That may seem like a long time ago, but to those that lived through the outbreak, every day is still a fearful step forward that another outbreak is just beyond the horizon.
Today, three months since the last reported case of Ebola, we look back at more than 11,000 lives lost throughout West Africa in the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Zeela Zaizay, MAP International’s , Liberia Project Officer, “MAP helped out people to go beyond being spectators and victims, to being champions and conquerors,” said Zaizay. “MAP gave us (Liberia) the right resources to be able to fight Ebola.”
Two out of every five people that contracted Ebola during this outbreak died as a result of the virus, but the fight isn’t over. One of the most recent cases of Ebola was spread by a survivor 15+ months after recovery, through sexual transmission. Many lived in fear for their own lives, including our own staff, “At some point, even I myself thought I was exposed to the disease,” said Zaizay. “It was worth the risk to fight the virus and save our families. You can’t easily imagine what it was like, living in a land of terror, you could lose your life almost any day.”
Over the course of the past two years following the first case of Ebola, MAP International has provided over 33,000 personal protective suits to protect healthcare workers and over $16 million in medicines and medical supplies to treat the infected and prevent infection. MAP wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of this without our dedicated team on the ground, multiple field partners including American Leprosy Missions, Effect:Hope, the Integral Alliance and the support of our donors and pharmaceutical partners.
The support of the international aid community enabled us to restore hope in Liberia. Zaizay said, “Two things were imminent, either we would defeat Ebola, or Ebola would defeat us.” Now two years later, Zaizay says “we turned from being the victims to being the victors.”
There are still unknowns in this outbreak and we must continue to move forward cautiously. We must continue water, sanitation, and hygiene projects as well as awareness and training projects that will prepare the people of West Africa and prevent the rapid spread of the Ebola virus and other outbreaks in the future. Watch Zeela Zaizay’s full interview here.