Indiana University hosts Ebola forum to answer questions about outbreak

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By Marisela Burgos

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Oct. 13, 2014)-- Indiana University hosted an educational forum about Ebola Monday afternoon to clear up any myths about the virus.

For many years, faculty at the college has worked closely with medical officials in Liberia.

“For the last three years in particular the university has been focused on helping the country of Liberia redevelop its medical, nursing, and its public health workforce,” Michael Reece said.

Reece is the associate dean of the School of Public Health-Bloomington at IU. The speakers expressed the need for more medical supplies, doctors, nurses, and for more people who do public work in West Africa.

“People don’t understand the realities of how limited the healthcare system and infrastructure is in developing countries,” IU Doctoral candidate Shalini Navele said.

Students said they attended the educational forum because they wanted more information about the virus. The forum, which lasted about an hour and a half, was held in Whittenberger Auditorium.

“We should not be surprised that diseases affecting other countries will affect us and we should take reasonable precautions everyday not just for Ebola to do that. The next great pandemic of the world is not going to be Ebola,” Chad Priest with the IU School of Nursing said.

Priest said the next challenge will be rebuilding the current healthcare system in West Africa.

“The real issue here for West Africa may be the dire state that the country is left in by the time this outbreak ends and that’s something –as global citizens - we just cannot ignore,” Priest said.

Priest said one example of a concern in West Africa is over their food supply. Priest wanted to give the audience some reassurance about the threat of Ebola.

“Quite frankly, you are more than likely to die of a handgun here in Indiana than you are of Ebola in Liberia,” Priest said.

He continued, “We should not be surprised that diseases affecting other countries will affect us and we should take reasonable precautions everyday not just for Ebola to do that. The next great pandemic of the world is not going to be Ebola”.

Sean Buehler is a sophomore at IU. He wanted to attend the forum because he is pursuing a degree in public health.

“There were a lot of interesting facts about how poor the healthcare system really is in Liberia. I think it’s hard for us in the United States to understand how decrepit the healthcare system are when we take a lot of it for granted every day,” Buehler said.

According to university officials, a team of leaders from Liberia will visit with IU faculty next week. Reece said they will work together to come up with a strategic plan that they can take back with them to improve their response to a similar situation after this outbreak.

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