A New Brunswick doctor will be among those travelling to Africa to help fight the spread of Ebola.
Almost 2,000 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, with new concerns expressed Wednesday from the World Health Organization.
Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said they are seeing a much bigger outbreak in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is reporting a smaller outbreak on its own.
Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health, will head to Nigeria to offer her expertise in response to the WHO's call for doctors. She said she felt compelled to go.
“In Africa they've never seen an outbreak of this size so it is very large, its spreading very quickly and it's projected to continue,” she said.
This will not be Dr. Cleary’s first visit to the region, and said she's well aware of the challenges.
“Allaying fears in the population and encouraging behaviours, certain behaviours that will be a big challenge,” she said. “The other big challenge, in some countries, is that there has been a real breakdown in infrastructure, routine medical care has all gone.”
Dr. Cleary said despite the scope of the outbreak and well publicized infection of doctors treating patients, she's not letting fear get in her way.
“I think it's important that we don't let ourselves be governed and paralyzed by fear,” she said. “If we all did that then there would be nobody to do the job.”
One of her main concerns is that Western influences will take over the management of the crisis.
“You really have to be there to develop a response that is appropriate to the region,” she explained. “I don’t think we can necessarily take our system and values and impose it in other areas and hope that it's going to work.”
Once stationed in Nigeria, Dr. Cleary will be responsible for managing policies regarding the outbreak. She won’t have any direct contact with patients, but her help may be required in other areas.
Her family said they were prepared for her decision to go, before she even announced it.
Dr. Cleary is due to leave in mid-September and stay in Africa for about 10 weeks.