Last week Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, declared the West African Ebola outbreak to be “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.” Over 4,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak and fears are widespread that the number could rise dramatically.
Catholics have been on the front lines combatting this epidemic. In many African countries the Catholic Church manages and operates around half of the health care facilities. In some areas, as much as seventy percent of available health care is provided by Catholic institutions. Catholic faithful are involved in education and disease prevention as well as care for those affected.
From our own Diocese, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, M.D., is currently in Liberia assisting in prevention and recovery efforts. Dr. Flanigan is an infectious disease specialist at Miriam Hospital and professor of medicine at the Brown University Alpert Medical School. He serves as a deacon at St. Theresa’s and St. Christopher’s parishes in Tiverton. Parishioners there are to be commended for their efforts to raise awareness and resources to combat this epidemic.
Followers of Jesus Christ should always be on the front lines in any efforts to promote human dignity and the common good. We can be proud of that in this case as Catholics have been doing just that. To learn more about ways to help those affected by the Ebola crisis, visit www.TimothyPFlaniganMD.com or contact the Diocese of Providence’s Office of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry at 401-421-7833.