A Ugandan doctor describes the real ‘Ebola Hot Zone’


by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News broadcast April 5, 2015


KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: In a recently published open letter to 60 Minutes, the CBS TV news magazine, former New York Times Africa correspondent Howard French expressed concern about the program’s “frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent.” Two hundred fellow journalists, academics and Africa advocates joined French in signing the letter, which said that 60 Minutes had managed “to render people of Black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.”

In particular, the letter pointed to “The Ebola Hot Zone,” last November’s 60 Minutes story produced in Liberia. In the story, American reporter Lara Logan watches American virologist Joseph Fair as he instructs Liberian gravediggers adjacent to an Ebola treatment unit. No African voice is heard except that of an African American doctor who speaks a few words.

Dr. Edmund Lubega, seen here with his niece, says that Africa’s emergency response to the West African Ebola epidemic makes him think the continent’s future is bright.
Dr. Edmund Lubega, seen here with his niece, says that Africa’s emergency response to the West African Ebola epidemic makes him think the continent’s future is bright.

KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Dr. Edmund Lubega, a Ugandan born doctor in Botswana, about French’s commentary. Lubega traveled to Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola epidemic with a team of African health professionals.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Dr. Lubega, what did you think of Howard French’s letter to 60 Minutes, the CBS news magazine, about its Eurocentric Africa coverage?

Dr. Edmund Lubega: Howard French, I think, described the situation quite well, because the American media owes their followers accurate reporting. This problem of poor reporting is not unique to the Americans. We come across it in other Western media news outlets and sometimes even in Russian media, so I think it’s something that outsiders get into.

And, on our part, we as Africans, it would be good if we could organize ourselves and try to find means by which we can share and broadcast our stories in our own way, in our own words, first of all with the rest of the continent, amongst ourselves, and then with the rest of the world at large. Complaining about Western media misrepresenting us is not going to be very useful to us.

We Africans need to take the initiative and drive the narrative instead of remaining mere spectators or bystanders in this. Like they say, if you’re waiting for permission to speak, keep quiet. We should stop waiting for outsiders to give us permission and means to talk.

KPFA: Did you see African media trying to cover the Ebola story in Sierra Leone?

Dr. Edmund Lubega: What channels did I watch in Sierra Leone? OK, mainly, we had BBC in my hotel room, occasionally CNN. Occasionally we’d watch Nigerian TV, even Kenyan TV. But there wasn’t much detail about the Ebola story. If we wanted to get information about what was going on in the Ebola epidemic, we’d go to the AU, African Union, African Union Commission website. That’s where the press releases would come out.

KPFA: And has the spread of Ebola been stopped?

Edmund Lubega: What I’ve been following is that the number of cases has drastically reduced. We’re on track so hopefully by May, Sierra Leone and Liberia could be declared Ebola free.

The number of Ebola cases has drastically reduced. We’re on track so hopefully by May, Sierra Leone and Liberia could be declared Ebola free.

KPFA: That’s wonderful. And the African Union organized the African medical teams?

Dr. Edmund Lubega: Yes. We were invited by the African Union to join the African Union Commission’s support to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Originally we were a team of around 30 health care professionals that included doctors, nurses and epidemiologists, IT data technicians and logisticians. And we were later joined by other teams from Nigeria, Kenya, the DRC and other countries.

Our team was deployed in the town of Makeni, in the north of Sierra Leone. The minister of health deployed us there and tasked us to work with the local health care teams, in order to raise awareness on infection prevention and control and promotion of staff safety.

Also, we were to get involved in starting the first Ebola treatment unit in the region, and we did get it started and, within about a couple of weeks or so, it was already running and we were receiving patients.

For me, I had had no experience managing Ebola patients or managing any epidemic for that matter, so it was quite a learning experience for me. But some of my colleagues had been involved in previous Ebola and Marburg, Marburg Fever, outbreaks in Uganda, and they were very helpful in orientating us.

On top of that, the Ministry of Health, together with the World Health Organization, organized induction seminars for us to give us information on how to manage Ebola patients and how to protect ourselves.

Eventually we started receiving patients, the numbers of admissions grew, and one British charity also started another Ebola treatment unit. That helped in handling the patient load in that area.

I found it very inspiring to work in a team of young and intelligent, skilled, focused, disciplined and dedicated African professionals. And I would say if they are representative of the current generation of young Africans, then our future as Africans is bright.

I found it very inspiring to work in a team of young and intelligent, skilled, focused, disciplined and dedicated African professionals. And I would say if they are representative of the current generation of young Africans, then our future as Africans is bright.

KPFA: And that was Ugandan doctor Edmund Lubega. Dr. Lubega traveled from his adopted home in Botswana to Sierra Leone to work with one of the African teams organized to stop the Ebola epidemic.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch, Colored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.



  1. Your blog is always bringing to the fore touching subjects and I am impressed with the power that these people are showing daily. It is not pleasant to be aware about the fact that our degree of development is way higher…because they can only dream about the proper conditions that are common things in our lives.

  2. I'm glad to hear the ebola outbreak is starting to dim down. I don't understand why the news hasn't done a better job at covering the story. I think it's tragic that so many people died and it seems like very few of us are interested. maria

  3. Sometimes, your neighbor's children are interested in caring for your household pets. Yet this might not be the best option, as kids can be reckless and ignore basic needs of an animal For this reason, protection of the health and wellness of your pets should be handed over in paid professionals, as they give you calmness and the serenity of mind while you are not available. <a href="http://www.dogtrainingphoenix.net” target=”_blank”>www.dogtrainingphoenix.net

  4. Try holding your pet differently. Most household pet owners find that Pedi Paws is extremely simple to use. You can enable your animal to sit on your lap while you cut their nails. This creates a comfortable position for your pet dog while their nails are being trimmed. If this does not work, take into consideration turning. You desire your pet or feline to be comfy, yet well secured. <a href="http://www.kaidog.net” target=”_blank”>www.kaidog.net

  5. Career development, on the other hand, is often seen as more of a big picture view. While advice may be something you seek to meet an immediate need, career development is something that unfolds with time. The dictionary definition of development, as noted by Webster is, "the act, process, or result of developing. <a href="http://www.collegecreditcareersnetwork.net” target=”_blank”>www.collegecreditcareersnetwork.net

  6. Before you make any decision relating to your career you have to assess yourself first. Because the inherent ability, skills and values are most helpful things to make career choices. You use self assessments tools in other words we can say a career test for a self assessment test. A career test enables you to making decisions for your career. It also creates an appropriate list of occupation and gathers right information for your career. <a href="http://www.constructioncareeraustin.net” target=”_blank”>www.constructioncareeraustin.net

  7. Career advice these days comes in all shapes and sizes. It's easy to get "lost in the lingo" but understanding some basic definitions can help ensure you get the right support for your needs. To put it simply, whether you need career advice or career development depends on where you are on your career journey. <a href="http://www.technews404.net” target=”_blank”>www.technews404.net

  8. You are able to choose to use this online businesses or traditional and earn money through 3 different methods while using FlexKom program. So if you do not like to visit away out of your seat, you manage to simply take the road which can make you leftover profits efficient online. Nevertheless, if you're capable to visit out to have an only a few clear daylights, and you'll be able to build further a lot. You simply spend several afternoons speaking with people. Either route you decide to obtain, relaxation guaranteed which FlexKom UNITED KINGDOM will place you upward everlastingly.spark-finance

  9. For such help associated with business grants or loans, you could get the assistance to establish your company, expansion associated with business plus some other types of helps for the business. In the beginning you're going to get the helps in the government to be able to start this so very easily.refinancebest

  10. Go to several home based business blogs every single day from the internet search engine like search engines, yahoo or even bing, read the newest post, and create a comment about this. Make certain your remark is connect with their blog and not simply an ad for the business. How you'll end up receiving more visitors? Leave your site or website within the comment You won't believe the actual traffic you will get using this particular simple idea. Commenting upon other home based business blogs is easy and simple.businesscollector

  11. This is actually the kind of your time schedule that you'll require. If a person leave the healthcare THIS position open up for too much time, you could find that your company will start battling. The others in your company may not need what they require or they might be taking on an excessive amount of the function load.healthmarketscomplaints

  12. The actual Medicare medical care insurance plan doesn't cover long-term nursing treatment, but the actual Medicare nursing facilities section from the Medicare plan does cover temporary stays within these amenities. The protection is determined by along the remain and the kind of home treatment required.homes4health

  13. Your website is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and just couldn't come across.

  14. Bookkeeping is usually done by a bookkeeper. But that doesn’t mean a virtual assistant cannot help you and assist you with recording financial transactions. Bookkeeping involves keeping track of transactions such as sales, purchases,ecosocialbusiness.com

  15. For anyone looking to start a decoration job on their homes, you will likely find that getting the right kind of design is very important. No doubt you will find that the variety of choices – from wallpaper to paint – can be quite a hard one to decide with.homeperformance360.com

  16. Buying the right RV cover may baffle you as you are not much familiar with its types and usages. But, believe me, it’s not at all a hard job though it may be a little bit time-consuming. You just have to keep certain things in your mind while shopping for it.travelagentprofits.com

  17. Negligent drivers who hit pedestrians while walking on a Bronx sidewalk or crash into another driver’s car cause thousands of serious injuries every year. Because the law limits how much time you have to file a claim,occonstructionlawyer.com

  18. Dressing up the babies is not an easy task, especially if they are newborn infants You would want your baby to look cute while you introduce them to your friends or coworkers or any family member. It seems so good when your baby gets a compliment from others.fashionmodelsecret.com

Leave a Reply