Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

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Ebola Still Deserves Our Attention

January 26, 2015

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Photographed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) team member, and EIS Officer, Dr. Heidi Soeters during Guinea’s 2014 Ebola outbreak, this image depicts what resembled a garden of red- and green-colored gloves propped up on sticks in order to dry after having been washed in a hyperchlorinated solution, thereby, killing any live Ebola viral particles. The pink-colored gloves were merely inside-out red gloves with their interiors exposed. The image was captured on the grounds of Donka Hospital, located in the country's capital city of Conakry/CDC

Taken by Dr. Heidi Soeters during Guinea’s 2014 Ebola outbreak, photo depicts red- and green-colored gloves propped on sticks to dry after being washed in a hyperchlorinated solution./CDC

It’s sad but not surprising that Ebola has all but disappeared from the headlines. After all, it’s not an imminent threat here anymore. There’s no more news hype—no “you heard it here first” messaging each day to grab headlines.

While the numbers of new cases and deaths appear to have abated in most affected countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee on the 2014 Ebola outbreak recently cautioned that “the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and concluded:

“the primary emphasis must continue to be on ‘getting to zero’ Ebola cases, by stopping the transmission of Ebola within the three most affected countries [Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia]. This action is the most important step for preventing international spread. Complacency is the biggest risk to not getting to zero cases.”

As of the latest figures (Jan 21), there have been a total of 21,724 documented cases and 8,641 deaths worldwide—almost a 40% mortality rate. Among health care workers, there were 828 cases and 499 reported deaths.

Yet as communities are struggling to get back to normal routines (Sierra Leone, one of the hardest hit countries, with over 10,300 cases and 3,100 deaths, announced it will reopen schools in March for the first time in eight months), the rest of the world seems to have moved on, comfortable that the global threat has been mitigated.

The response of many governments and private organizations that poured resources into the hard-hits areas was laudable, and we saw how knowledgeable health care workers with the right equipment quickly made a difference.

But now what? What of the conditions—lack of health infrastructure, inadequate equipment, too few health care workers educated about Ebola and community health practices—that allowed the Ebola infection to spread unchecked for so long? The first WHO report on the Ebola outbreak was on August 29, 2014, but at first, the rest of the world remained unperturbed, seemingly viewing Ebola as an a problem specific to Africa. Read the rest of this entry ?

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‘The Worst I’ve Ever Seen': One Persistent Nurse’s Take on Somalian Refugee Situation

September 20, 2011

By Shawn Kennedy, editor-in-chief

Long-term care: Martone at a refugee camp in Uganda back in 2001

Gerry Martone is a nurse who has traveled to the far reaches of the world in his job as director of humanitarian resources at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). We ran a profile of Gerry in 2001 and also a photo essay. He’s also a skilled photographer and we’ve published his photo essays documenting his travels. (See here for one on assessing poverty in Afghanistan and here for one on Sudan refugees; click through to PDF versions for best viewing.)

So when I spoke with Gerry last week, shortly after he came back from a visit to a refugee camp in Kenya, it scared me when he said the situation in East Africa is the worst thing he’s ever seen. The region is plagued by a severe drought (Martone says it’s had no appreciable rain in two years), and while drought is a cyclical phenomenon there,  a struggling central government, lack of health and response systems, and ongoing  conflicts among local clans have worsened the situation, causing widespread food shortages. The global community is responding with aid, but for many, it will be too late.

He visited a UN camp outside the city of Dadaab, Kenya, to which more than 440,000 displaced people—mostly Somalians, who are the hardest hit—have fled. The IRC runs a hospital at the camp. The situation is dire: the UN estimates that, without intervention, 750,000 Somalians face death within four months. And it doesn’t have to be this way—it’s a matter of making potable water and food available—though even with supplies on hand, it’s hard to get them delivered to those in need. Martone said the area is completely lawless and very dangerous—he traveled with six armed guards—and many organizations fear sending their workers.

Martone said if people want to help, they should donate to an aid agency they feel comfortable with—and there are many doing work in the region, including the IRC, Doctors Without Borders, and the UN Refugee Agency, to name a few.

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2010: The Year of the Nurse

December 31, 2009

By Shawn Kennedy, interim editor-in-chief

Tomorrow when we ring in the New Year we’ll also be ringing in the International Year of the Nurse. No kidding. The designation honors the centennial of the death of Florence Nightingale (she died on August 13, 1910). It launches at noon everywhere on January 1 with the Million Nurse Global Caring Field Project, a “global meditation” led by noted nursing theorist Jean Watson, and events will continue throughout the year.

Most of you were probably aware that the United Nations had developed eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) that nations should achieve to end poverty and improve the health, education, and quality of life of their peoples. Three of the eight goals are specifically focused on health, but the others all have an impact on health one way or another.

The target date for achieving the goals is 2015, but as countries have implemented programs to achieve these goals they’ve become acutely aware that, without nurses in sufficient supply, they will fall short. For example, how do you reduce the maternal death rate during childbirth if there are few skilled health professionals to provide prenatal care or assist at births? How do you treat TB and HIV when there are no health workers to dispense and monitor drug therapy? Read the rest of this entry ?

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