Letters to the Editor

Honoring Duncan

Last week my church held a memorial service for Thomas Eric Duncan. I want to bring comfort and justice for his family, not just in the U.S. but also in Liberia.

In Liberia’s capital, nine of Eric’s neighbors are dead or are dying. If Eric’s brother needed treatment, there’s a chance a hospital wouldn’t even have a bed for him. If his sister gave birth, there’s a one in five chance the child wouldn’t live till her fifth birthday — mostly due to limited clean water.

Before the epidemic, Liberia had 50 doctors for every 4 million people.

The returns on public-health investment are huge. In a globalized world it just makes economic sense. Yet our contribution is staggeringly small.

Last year the U.S. spent the equivalent of 3 percent of our military defense budget on foreign aid — less than two-tenths of 1 percent of our GDP.

Eric’s death reminds us how connected we are. He died because he tried to save the life of a pregnant woman. It wasn’t because she had Ebola, it was because she was a fellow human being.

If we want to honor his memory, shouldn’t we try to save the lives of Liberians, too?

— Joan Gass, Dallas

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