Former USAID official and current Samaritan’s Purse vice president Ken Isaacs testified before a House subcommittee on the west African Ebola outbreak.
“We are starting to see panic now,” Isaacs said, “Around the world. People want to know. I don’t know about you folks. I look at the Drudge Report. It can drive a lot of panic.”
That might be a headliner quote, but the bulk of Isaacs’ testimony was very sobering.
Isaacs spent 26 years with various USAID efforts around the world before joining Samaritan’s Purse, the missionary organization to which the two Americans who are infected with Ebola belong. Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational Christian charity that helps the poor all over the world. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, is its founder.
Isaacs told the hearing that the situation in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is dire. So dire, he said, that it “threatens the stability and way of life” of those countries.
Another missionary doctor, Dr. Frank Glover, explained why this outbreak is so much worse. Previous outbreaks occurred in rural areas, and essentially burned themselves out.
The current outbreak is happening in extremely densely populated cities. It is moving along the terrestrial transportation routes. The viral infection is never likely to burn out in such conditions.
I was watching the hearing while swooning in and out of awareness because I’m dealing with a flu-like virus myself, so I didn’t catch this quote near the end of the hearing, but Breitbart’s livebloggers did.
Isaacs ended the hearing with a somber tone, warning members of Congress to take the Ebola threat seriously.
“If you read the Ministry of Health status reports coming out every day from Libera, I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it has an atmosphere of ‘Apocalypse Now’ in it,” he said, referring to bodies lying in the street and gangs threatening to burn down hospitals.
“I believe that this disease has the potential to be a national security risk for many nations, and I think it will even have an impact on our national security,” he added.
Update: Reuters reports that Liberia’s health care system is collapsing because of the Ebola outbreak.
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The health care system in Liberia is collapsing, hospitals closing down and medical workers fleeing from the Ebola epidemic, which is poised to worsen, Liberia’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
“People are dying from common diseases because the health care system is collapsing,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.