(CBS) – The cultural attitudes of how Ebola victims are cared for by their families in Liberia must change. That’s the message from Liberia’s Foreign Minister.
He was in Chicago Saturday, hosting a town hall meeting on the Ebola outbreak in his homeland, where nearly 300 people have died, CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.
Republic of Liberia Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan spoke to people of Liberian descent at Chatham Fields Lutheran Church. He said when it comes to stopping the spread of Ebola, knowledge is power.
“One of the ways to combat it, is to avoid physical contact, but that comes into contradiction with some of our traditions,” he said.
Ngafuan says loved ones should not be treated at home, but in medical facilities to stop the spread of the often fatal disease. He’s even urging Chicagoans of Liberian descent to call those back home to reinforce the message.
The official says 283 people have died from Ebola in Liberia since March. In west Africa, nearly 1,000 people have succumbed to the virus since December.
Dr. Adam Murphy, is a Northwestern Medicine urologist. Seeing the need firsthand in Liberia, Murphy is also the co-founder of Chicago Global Health Alliance. The organization gets desperately needed medical supplies to the country.
“Like having gloves, eyewear, gowns, masks for the operating room — those kinds of things were not readily available,” Murphy said.
Those supplies are vital for medical workers. Ngafuan says they are the first line of defense in helping those in his homeland combat this disease.
Liberia’s foreign minister recently attended the U.S. Africa Leader Summit in Washington, D.C. with President Obama, before coming to Chicago. His next town hall meeting takes place tomorrow, in Columbus, Ohio.
The Liberian Embassy in the United States is accepting medical and monetary donations for supplies during the outbreak. Click here for more information.