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Identity & Community

Brother's Brother Sends More Help to Battle Ebola

As the Ebola outbreak rages on in West Africa, charitable organizations scramble to get needed supplies to hospitals that treat victims.

One of those organizations, the Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF), is set to send a large shipment of medical supplies to Sierra Leone – one of the two countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak.

“Happily the problem is not as big as they thought,” said Luke Hingson, president of BBF, speaking in regards to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. However, “it is still sadly killing one- to two-thousand people a month.”

BBF’s shipment of medical supplies will be transported in a 40 foot ocean-going container and will embark from the charity’s Northside warehouse. The shipment will be the 13th container shipment sent to West Africa by BBF, along with one air shipment.

The supplies include “some things that are specifically related to Ebola,” namely personal protection equipment items (PPEs), which include gloves, “impermeable gowns,” and facemasks.

The shipment will also include standard medical equipment needed to buoy overwhelmed hospitals in Sierra Leone which still need to handle day-to-day medical needs.

“We are also providing medical equipment and supplies to support the hospitals in general,” Hingson said. “You still have deliveries every day – women come in and deliver. You have the accident on the road; you have people with other kinds of health problems.”

Hingson said the grim reality of the Ebola disease – namely the high-death rate– has made it difficult to raise money for the cause.

“It’s very difficult disease and problem to raise money for,” Hingson admits. “It’s so awful it’s hard to comprehend that most people who get this disease die, and you’re helping the fewer survivors, not the many survivors.”

In Sierra Leone the outbreak has taken a heavy toll on the country’s health care system. It’s so bad, Hingson said: “We’re dealing with some hospitals where literally they run out of money and the nurses … are paid in bags of rice.”

BBF combines sea shipments of supplies with air shipments – which can cost five times as much, Hingson says. It is the “constant flow of items,” Hingson said, that is crucial to ensure the safety of those who work in the health care system of Sierra Leone.

“If you don’t know that you have this protective equipment coming you tend to use it a little longer, and that is where some of the problem has been. Some of these items have been used too long or too sparingly to be fully effective.”

Despite the daunting realities of the Ebola outbreak, Hingson remains optimistic. “We’ve been around for almost 60 years helping people, so we certainly know how to do it.”

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