Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was tactful and circumspect when he questioned the way health officials and medical staffers handled the care and treatment of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan. Jackson carefully avoided using the “R” word. R as in racism but others, many others, and that includes Duncan’s family, flatly charged that he was virtually left to die because he was black. To drive home the charge of a racial double standard for black victims, the case of the two white American medical workers stricken with Ebola and rushed back from Liberia and given the rare drug, ZMapp that supposedly saved their lives is repeatedly cited.
The charge of one standard of treatment for blacks and another for whites is understandable, but with Duncan and Ebola it doesn’t hold up. A bevy of medical and health officials with no connection to the hospital, as well as Liberian officials and many of those close to him, agreed that given what was known about Duncan’s condition at the time, he was given the best care and treatment available that included team of doctors and nurses, and a possible saving drug infusion. The story of the Americans who were saved made news not just because they were the first known Americans hit with the virus. But, it was because they were treated with ZMapp and lived. This instantly set off loud protests and shouts of racism, and indifference, and that American health and medical officials outright turn their back on Africans there and here who are dying from the disease. The brutal reality is there is no known cure for the virus once contracted. At best, there’s only ZMapp. The problem with this is that it’s still regarded as an experimental drug and is on the ground floor in use in the treatment of Ebola. The supplies of the drug globally are severely limited. There’s no evidence that Duncan was not given the drug because of race. The hospital’s claim that it had no supply of the drug on hand or any prospect of getting it in time to save his life rings true.
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