Sunday, November 2, 2014

International Mutual Aid, founded to provide direct patient care in West Africa

Hi all, haven't been here in a few years, I'm surprised how much the page views have jumped.  Glad you all enjoyed this blog/found it useful.

My travels in the south have been put on home and I am here in the US again, becoming inextricably caught up in the crisis response to West Africa. 

On to the next:

As many visitors here know from first-hand experience, the world has become increasingly integrated and globalized.  Some of you may have been affected in your work and travels by trans-border issues from piracy and conflict to diseases such as Swine Flu and MERS.

Now we are in the midst of the first great epidemic of the Age of Globalization.  As of 29 Oct 2014, the World Health Organization has a reported Ebola case total of 13,567.  WHO estimates that if unreported cases are taken into account, the total cases may be closer to 25,000.  Ebola has an average 70% death rate during the current epidemic.

The Ebola epidemic has caused nearly all medical NGOs to pull out of the three affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  In Liberia, even the local health care system that used to handle routine illnesses has collapsed.  For the first time in its history, the US very nearly saw a legal precedent set for forcible quarantine of a healthy individual.  Proponents of forcible quarantine openly admitted this measure was based not on science, but on public fear.  For those of you who are away from home, the popular response in the US is well summarized in the decision by Maine Judge Charles LaVerdiere, who struck down the forcible quarantine of Kaci Hickox: "The court is fully aware of the misconceptions, misinformation, bad science and bad information being spread from shore to shore in our country with respect to Ebola,” the judge said. “The court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational. However, whether that fear is rational or not, it is present and it is real."

I feel it's safe to assume that this will not be the last, nor the greatest health challenge posed by the Age of Globalization.  At present our response to this epidemic, both emotional and material, does not bode well for future crisis response.  

One primary response component currently lacking, which very few organizations have stepped up to offer, are trained medical personnel willing to treat patients in West Africa.

This is why I have joined with a group of emergency medical professionals to found International Mutual Aid.  IMA is a nonprofit NGO which be sending a group of medical professionals to operate a clinic and provide direct patient care in Liberia.  IMA is coordinating with the Liberian govt, on-the-ground NGOs such as Project Cure and PIH, and WHO to tailer our response to current needs.  Our fundraising campaign begins Nov 4 and we aim to have an advance team on the ground in November.

IMA is a small, flexible organization.  It was founded with the express purpose of advocating for patients and providing a courageous, humane response to this international public health crisis.  Much of the funding that we raise will be matched by larger NGOs who are providing supplies and logistical support.  If you donate to IMA, not only will your dollars make a direct impact on the amount of patient care available in Liberia, they will do so through a multiplier effect.  We will remain in Liberia to assist in rebuilding the local healthcare system after the epidemic peaks and wanes.

Please help us to stop Ebola!  Help us take action in the face of fear.  Every donation is a step closer.


Our fundraising campaign will commence on Nov 4.  To increase visibility, we will kick off with an Indiegogo crowdfunding action, then move to direct individual and corporate donations.

Thank you,
Virginia Price, Board of Directors, International Mutual Aid

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