Idris Elba: How the Luther actor would save the world from the spread of Ebola

The actor says that the virus is no longer 'just a crisis, it is a human catastrophe'

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The Independent Online

Ebola is a subject that Idris Elba feels strongly about.

His father was born in Sierra Leone and his parents were married there – a country that has been "ravaged" by the deadly virus, infecting five every hour. The fast spread of the disease is outstripping medical supplies.

Liberia and Guinea have also been badly impacted by the outbreak. There have been 7,178 confirmed cases and 3,330 fatalities.

Elba has spent the past two weeks meeting with "NGO groups working to help those affected and with the United Nations officials who are coordinating the response" to work out how he can help.

"It is clear from the meetings I've had that Ebola isn't just a crisis, it is a human catastrophe and one that threatens to grow stronger and spread wider if the world doesn't act now," he said. So, the actor has outlined three ways in which the public can make an impact.

He begins with ensuring that "politicians deliver on their promises to contain Ebola". Essentially, we can’t let the disease fall off government radars.

"With new government commitments last week the media's attention was on Ebola, but the cameras will soon move on," he said. "We can't let them. Not until this disease is contained. Delivery on the ground needs to happen quickly and we need every country to play their part."

Secondly, we must "support the health care workers on the ground, and those organizations helping them".

"Ebola is not just killing people directly; it has also led to a spike in other dangerous diseases like typhoid and malaria as people stop going to hospitals, afraid they will catch Ebola. Health care workers have been attacked by people who fear they are spreading, not treating the virus," writes Elba in a piece for The Huffington Post.

"We must support education campaigns in the affected countries and strengthen the effectiveness of - and trust in - their health care systems."

And finally, we mustn’t forget the long-term consequences of the disease and support infected countries accordingly.

"We must stand with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea not only as they fight Ebola now, but also in the longer term, as they build back their economies and strengthen their healthcare systems - so that the next time an outbreak like Ebola happens, they have the skills and equipment to contain it before it rages out of control," he continued.

"For me the fight against Ebola is a very personal one, but I know millions of people all over the world have been moved to want to help. We cannot leave the people of Sierra Leone and West Africa to suffer alone."