His church is in New Haven, but his native country is Liberia, one of three African countries besieged by a deadly Ebola outbreak.
Rev. Philip Blamo and his Holiness Church on Greenwich Avenue are asking for donations of medical supplies such as masks, surgical gloves and hand sanitizer, hoping to send a shipment home next month.
“The country is in a state of emergency,” said Blamo.
According to the CDC, the outbreak has already killed hundreds, and the reverend recently received a sad phone call from his sister back home about a family he knew.
“They all died instantly," he explained. "You know, they died within a week. Seven family members died within a week.”
Blamo explained that large families live in much closer proximity in West African countries than in Western society, making it easy for the contagious Ebola to spread.
He said about 12,000 Liberians live in New Haven alone, and that medical supplies sent half a world away could end up saving lives much closer to Connecticut.
“The disease is not only an African disease,” he contended. “That disease can spread to any part of the world, so everybody needs to come together.”
Dr. Christine Ngaruiya, Global Health and International Emergency Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine, confirms the seriousness of what’s happening in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
“The most recent quote on the CDC.’s Web site is 1,300 in terms of the actual number of cases, and around 729 deaths,” she said. “[Ebola] is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids.”
However, Ngaruiya is discouraging panic in the United States. For one thing, she pointed out, the only two recent suspected cases turned up negative for Ebola.
Furthermore, despite the legitimate concern caused by a mortality rate of 60-90 percent, Ngaruiya said Western society has much better mechanisms to contain and isolate cases in the event of an outbreak here.
“We have the ability to easily quarantine and sequester patients,” Ngaruiya explained, “which they don’t have as easily out in West Africa.”
To donate medical supplies to Liberia through the Holiness Church, call Rev. Philip Blamo at 203-392-4822.