I bet most of you are thinking these questions while safe and comfortable in your/our homes and watching the news. Some of us are probably thinking “those poor people” with some relief thinking we may be far enough that we are not exposed to this deadly virus.

Perhaps this was why, we/the world reacted too late?

Do we even stop to wonder about the children who lost their parents or a parent to the Ebola but no one wants to hold them while they cry, not their aunts, uncles, not even their grandparents. Their own family won’t touch them.

A similar situation occurred when HIV/AIDS broke out in Papua New Guinea over two decades ago. I remember whilst volunteering with the Action For Community Health group we found a large number of children abandoned. Fortunately these children were taken in by a Catholic nun. Eventually “Friends”, a Not-For-Profit organisation was set up by a PNG mother  to care for the children.

Often, when we cannot understand something or something does not affect us personally, we distance ourselves.

There are so many lives being lost to the Ebola virus in such a short time. “Ebola” when mentioned, is a frightening word.

Today I listened on MMM radio to the Queensland (Australia)  doctor, Dr Jenny Stedmon who volunteered to work with Red Cross in Sierra Leone and returned to Brisbane. She is in quarantine for three weeks. Dr Stedmon’s concerns were that the numbers of those affected by the virus was a lot higher than what we hear on the news.

I admire people like Dr Stedmon who give their lives to save and help others. There are many others like her out there and some of them have already lost their lives in this epidemic.

My son Nathan wants to work in Medicine and in particular, the Epidemic field. I remember discussing this year’s Ebola virus outbreak earlier this year with my 18-year-old after he covered the topic in BioChem in his university studies. He was explaining the virus, its symptoms and what was happening in west Africa.

It seemed at that time, Ebola was a subject of interest but I guess no-one thought it would spread this much. The costs and the process of treatment is incredible. During the MMM radio interview, Dr Stedmon described how hot it was in the “space suits” which was worn on top of their normal clothes and given the African humidity and heat – each worker or doctor has up to 45 minutes each time to see and treat the patients before taking a break and writing up reports.  The ‘space suit’  got too hot after 45 minutes.
Reading all the articles about the epidemic and how wide-spread it has become makes we wonder if we (as the world) reacted too slow and too late…As the Australian reported, the first case of the Ebola virus was diagnosed in US today; now will we do more?




Queensland’s Redland Hospital anaesthetist Dr Stedmon returned home this week to quarantine after three weeks in West Africa, helping treat infected Ebola patients as part of the Australian Red Cross effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Director of Medical Services at Redland Hospital, Dr Rosalind Crawford said Metro South Health was proud to be able to support Dr Stedmon to participate in the response to the Ebola crisis in Africa when she left in July this year.

“We are all very proud of her and the challenging mission on which she is about to embark. Dr Stedmon, as the Director of Anaesthetics and a key medical leader of Redland Hospital, is willing to take on a significant personal risk to assist in the containment of the virus in the third world,” Dr Crawford said.

“The team at Redland Hospital praise her courage and look forward to welcoming her back safe and sound in a few weeks’ time.”

Dr Stedmon will spend one month in Sierra Leone’s main Ebola hospital in Kenema and will work as a general medicine specialist before spending three weeks in quarantine.

According to the World Health Organisation, the Ebola outbreak is the worst since the virus first appeared in 1976, and is currently affecting Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Dr Stedmon has worked in a number of war zones over the past 20 years with the Australian Red Cross, including East Timor, Yemen and the Thai-Cambodian border. She was one of only two Australian doctors the Australian Red Cross sent to the Philippines when the country experienced a devastating typhoon late last year. She will be one of only three Australian doctors working in Sierra Leone over the next month.

The international Red Cross has been one of the lead agencies trying to prevent Ebola from spreading. Close to one thousand volunteers and staff have been working around the clock to educate communities on how to prevent the disease since Ebola first broke out in Guinea in March. Over 1000 people have died in West Africa from Ebola and 1,848 people have been infected, according to the World Health Organization.

Metro South Health wishes Dr Stedmon a safe journey and looks forward to her return.

(Some facts about the Ebola virus – see link below)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s