Charlotte Hornets big man Bismack Biyombo spends every offseason back home in his native country of Congo to see family, run camps and work with the government to rid the African nation of Ebola.
Biyombo spoke with The Undefeated about his work, why Ebola is still an issue on the continent and why people should be paying attention to Africa at the very least to protect themselves.
Why can’t Ebola get same funds as Notre Dame?
The Ebola outbreak is in its 12th month, mirroring the the West African Ebola outbreak that ravaged Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon in 2014. Then, it took years for the World Health Organization to raise enough money to end the outbreak.
Comparatively, within days of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in France there was nearly $1 million in donations for the rebuild. Many asked at the time why the billionaire donors were giving to a building when they could help social issues.
Biyombo has thought about this in terms of what’s happening in his home country and want Congolese millionaires to give back. Via The Undefeated:
If I tell the truth, I sat down and think about that over and over, because the cathedral burned down [and] within hours there were solutions. What stopped people from actually investing the solution to discuss this [Ebola] because people are dying. Like, this is real. People are dying.
I mean if we can raise hundreds of millions for some other things to be built, I think we can do that to save life.
Approximately 2,700 people have been infected and two-thirds of them have died, according to the Washington Post. Privately, officials are concerned the official numbers are too low since many areas are inaccessible due to remote location and conflict, per the Post.
It’s already the world’s second-worst outbreak after only the 2014 epidemic.
Biyombo: We have to pay attention to Africa for ourselves
It is the 10th outbreak in Congo and earlier this month the World Health Organization labeled it a “public health emergency of international concern.” The World Bank pledged $300 million in the aftermath and the U.S. upped its donation to $38 million, per the Post.
It’s a move that many would ask, “why help there when we can help at home?” And Biyombo gave his answer to The Undefeated:
I think Africa is overlooked with these problems because people sometimes say, ‘That’s African problems. That does not concern us.’ One way or another one, at some point we all going to have to pay attention to Africa because the reality is this: If one person get on that plane and come to the U.S. and spray, then it becomes the U.S. problem. So why wait until that happens instead of fixing this problem now?
Biyombo said people should care about the resources in Congo despite it being a topic not discussed often.
Will other countries having Ebola be what stops epidemic?
Biyombo explained to The Undefeated how part of the issue is a long-standing distrust of government. He said he has hope the disease will be eradicated, but he is realistic.
For the past decade or more than a decade, our problem has been there, yet still coming back and don’t solve. What’s gonna change people’s mindsets for that problem to be solved within the next five to 10 years? Like what’s going to change people’s mind? Is it other countries end up having Ebola, which is something you don’t wish for? What’s going to get people’s attention?
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Monday that two potential drugs had a survival rate of as much as 90 percent for low levels of the disease in a trial, per Reuters. It began last November and treatments will now be offered to all patients.
Officials warned it is encouraging, but not enough to stop the epidemic for good.
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