James Appel, a medical doctor who worked in Liberia during the Ebola crisis, gave a presentation at CSUSB on Nov. 17.
During the event, Appel focused on providing practical and useful knowledge about Ebola and his experiences with it during his time in West Africa, and how it is handled both in Liberia and America.
Despite primarily working with non-Ebola patients, Appel has extensive knowledge about Ebola due to his work in Africa and believes the fear American media is causing outweighs the information they are providing.
“I think that the American media completely blows things out of proportion. We’ve had one Ebola death. The likelihood of dying of a lightning strike is higher than dying of Ebola. Media is completely blowing it out of proportion,” said Appel.
Aida Cadavid from the Center for International Studies and Programs organized the event to inform CSUSB about what Ebola is and not what the media makes it out to be.
“There is this sense of unspoken ‘fear’,” said Cadavid. “The media does a great job at instilling fright and my hope was to have some of that ‘fear’ cleared up by someone who was actually there.”
In August, Dr. Appel arrived in Liberia to partner up with Dr. Gillian Seton at Cooper Adventist Hospital and left Liberia six weeks ago.
Due to the Ebola outbreak, hospitals in West Africa closed or refused to take in new patients.
Cooper Adventist Hospital was one of the few hospitals that decided to stay open to help treat non-Ebola patients.
Appel mentioned he was aware of the severity of the situation but he was available and motivated to help.
Seton and Appel believe the need for medical treatment outweighs the dangers of keeping hospitals open.
Appel said he “had people who came from five other hospitals because they were turned away.”
Appel spoke about issues Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol city, faces that prevent healthcare. They include improper use of funds and impractical responses to the Ebola crisis, but believes people can make a difference.
“So why is the lack of human resource the problem and not money? It should be obvious to any American who has heard the news at all. We are afraid. Fear and panic has gripped us when anyone talks about Ebola,” said Appel.
Appel acknowledges the circumstances in West Africa are dangerous. Appel maintains a blog about his experiences and the events he faces everyday and admits that he has felt discouraged.
“You can’t work in those kinds of conditions in Africa where a complete lack of resources, human and material, and know that maybe if you were in a different situation, different time or place, you can maybe help that person but to watch them die in front of you, it can be discouraging,” said Appel.
Appel lost a son when he and his wife brought their family to West Africa. Despite the heartache of his loss, Appel believes that his efforts and his sacrifices were never in vain.
“How many Chadian children would have died if we hadn’t come to Africa? How many hundreds did we save over the years? How many African children was my son worth?” said Appel.
Appel is happy to have made an impact on the citizens of Liberia on an individual scale.
“I made up my mind that if I saved even one life in Monrovia it would have been worth going there even if I had died of Ebola,” said Appel.
Originally published on coyotechronicle.net (November 21, 2014)