Reddit Ebola AMA leaves no doubt about the scale of this outbreak

(Reuters photo)
(Reuters photo)

Doctors without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres, is a leader managing the Ebola outbreak health response in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Estrella Lasry, a medical doctor and Tropical Medicine Advisor at the organization, sat down for an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit this afternoon and gave out some devastating straight-talk about the situation on the ground.

She answered questions about the biology of the diseases, the needs of the health centers, and the potential impact of the disease if governments do not respond:

The implications are huge. A deconstructed health system with half of the medical population decimated, a lack of trust in health facilities from the population, and apart from all of the Ebola cases and deaths, all of the non-Ebola cases and deaths that are not being managed, and that are probably in the 10s of thousands.

Redditors reading her answers asked how they could help from far away:

A lot of people have been asking that. You can help create awareness, you can put pressure on your governments to act, you can donate to one of the organizations responding to the outbreak…

Lasry said that the medical teams are facing social challenges:

People are hiding and not coming to health facilities, and when they come, not all can be admitted as we are completely overwhelmed and there are not enough people responding on the ground.

But there are also severe infrastructural challenges, and that’s where international governments can help, she said:

What we are asking for is for the deployment of military medical expertise, trained in bioterrorism (because the methods of infection control are similar). They have the logistics and personnel to be quickly on the ground. This is an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary measures.

You can read the full AMA here.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at
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