Dear World,In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill. We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments. There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright. Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed. The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster. But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world. The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away. This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise. I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need. From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence. The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”Yours sincerely,Ellen Johnson SirleafShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD – At 4, Asia Morehead is already a dental care veteran and she knows the oral hygiene drill by heart: Sit still. Head up. Mouth open. Spit. Thanks to five specially trained moms known as las promotoras, or the promoters, Asia and dozens of her classmates at the Lowman Head Start program stand a good chance of having healthy smiles well into adulthood. “We only had two criers today,” said Martha Baguel, a Head Start mom and promotora who is a graduate of a 120-hour program sponsored by UCLA’s Oral Health Promotion Program. “The kids first come with fear, but then they feel comfortable with us because we’re moms,” Baguel said. “Because of us, they look at dental care differently now. They are not afraid to go to a dentist.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventWinning the battle against tooth decay is about more than just a pretty smile. Some experts now say dental disease is the No. 1 health problem among California children, even worse than obesity and diabetes. For some of the dozens of children enrolled in the Head Start program, Monday marked their first brush with dental care. The promotoras transformed the North Hollywood classroom into a clinic, with dental files and sanitary bibs, sterile cotton applicators, gauze and boxes of toothbrushes. After a brief checkup for plaque and puffy gums, the children sat calmly around their play table to get their tiny teeth polished with tooth-decay-fighting fluoride. And for the moms who trained to provide the service, there is the satisfaction of learning a new skill – as well as reaching out to a community that might otherwise overlook dental care needs because of poverty and a lack of education. In 2000, a first-ever surgeon general’s report on oral health called dental and oral diseases in the United States a “silent epidemic.” The report found that while 44 million Americans lacked medical insurance, 108 million had no dental insurance, and uninsured children are 2.5 times less likely to receive dental care. In California, almost two-thirds of the state’s youngsters have dental disease by the time they reach third grade, making it the No. 1 health problem in children, according to a study released in February by the Dental Health Foundation. The study also found that 4 percent of the children, or 138,000, are in pain or have untreated tooth infections. Researchers say children should have their first checkup at 2 years old, or even younger. “We have all the tools to help in prevention but the problem is getting those tools to the children,” said Dr. Nancy Reifel, an assistant researcher with the 2-year-old UCLA program that trained the moms. “It would also take a change in the dental profession to add to this level of prevention.” Funded by California’s First Five initiative, the $25,000-a-month program provides dental care to more than 500 children ages 3 to 5, at nine Head Start classrooms in North Hollywood, Pacoima and San Fernando. Those children and each member of their families receive free toothbrushes and toothpaste every three months, and the results are positive, Reifel said. Instances of baby bottle tooth decay, for example, have decreased thanks to education, Reifel said. The promotoras not only apply fluoride, but if needed, some cavity-fighting sealants. They also make referrals to local dentists who can treat bigger problems. For the parents of the children who participate, the checkups also ease fears of dental visits. “When I took her to the dentist for the first time, she already knew everything,” said Elvira Gonzales of her 4-year-old daughter, Priscila. “Now, she tries to teach me how to floss.” email@example.com (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!