|Dr. Joseph Sankoh, Dr. Gale Burstein, and Mr. Anthony Saysay discuss Ebola on Oct. 20|
A large crowd of around a hundred people was in attendance Monday night for the second event of the new History & Politics events series, a panel discussion of the Ebola crisis currently ravaging the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. The event was organized by Dr. Joseph Sankoh, associate professor of Political Science, who is a specialist on African politics and coordinates the department's Refugee Studies minor. Dr. Sankoh chaired the panel and discussed the history and culture of West Africa. The two other panelists were Dr. Gale Burstein (Erie County Commissioner of Public Health) and Mr. Anthony Saysay, a native of Liberia who came to the U.S. seven years ago as a refugee.
The panel discussion emphasized the impact of the crisis has had upon West Africa, where over 9,000 people have contracted Ebola and where over 4,500 have died. While much of the press coverage of the Ebola outbreak in the United States has focused on the United States, there has been relatively little discussion of conditions in Africa or the impact that Ebola is having in Africa. This event offered a corrective to that perspective, keeping the focus on conditions in West Africa. Saysay spoke about trauma and devastation caused by civil war in Liberia, asking "Who is coming to help?" and asking those present to pray for Africa and for the victims and survivors of the Ebola epidemic. Sankoh emphasized such issues as the legacy of colonialism on the region's country, as well as the prevalence of poverty, the lack of basic health and transportation infrastructure, and discussed cultural practices that have helped to spread disease. Burstein traced the disease's trajectory, highlighting the ways that Ebola is transferred and identifying stages of infection and transmission.
|Dr. Sankoh (photo from WBFO.org)|
The panel discussion attracted attention from several local media outlets. Read/listen to news coverage from WBFO radio (linked HERE), and Time-Warner cable news (linked HERE).
Asked how to help provide relief for the victims of Ebola, both Sankoh and Burstein recommended work of Buffalo's Jericho Road Community Health Center, under the leadership of Dr. Marion Glick: http://www.jrm-buffalo.org/ Daemen's African Student Association is also raising funds for Ebola relief during this week's Ebola Awareness Week; contact ASA president Maryan Jumale (maryan.jumale @ daemen.edu) for more information.
Read more about the panelists at our earlier blog post, linked HERE. The event was sponsored by the History & Political Science Department, with co-sponsorship from the African Student Association, the Office of the President, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement, the Division of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Health and Human Services, the Health Care Studies Department, the Paralegal Studies Program, and the Public Health Department.