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Our son Sean was instrumental in creating a pharmacy in a small village in Ivory Coast.

IvoryCoastMapWith the help of a friend he met in Tunisia years ago (Jean-Claude), Sean has been responsible for building, staffing, and stocking the pharmacy in Sankadiokro.  He installed computers to keep track of inventory and ordering.

No small feat for someone living in the middle of the United States!

“The roads in this neighborhood are dirt, and the houses are mud,” Sean said, “but the needs of the people for good medicine are just as strong as any place in the world. In some parts of Africa many of the things we use every day simply are not available. Like clean water and basic medical care.”

SankadiokroAt the start, Sean trained five locals to master the basics of using the pharmacy management and point of sale software that runs the pharmacy. “We speak different languages, but we are all dedicated to a common cause – making life better for the people of Ivory Coast.”

Sean has not been able to get back to Sankadiokro as often as he would like, but he did manage a trip before Christmas 2014.  On his way back, he was stopped for Ebola screening.  Although Ivory Coast had no reported cases of Ebola, it does sit next to nations very much in the news like Guinea and Liberia.

I did a search to see if Ivory Coast had any travel restrictions, and found “There are no notices currently in effect for Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).”

Sean was upset about all the attention given to the latest Ebola outbreak.  He thinks it was over-hyped, especially with his first-hand experience in Ivory Coast working with the residents about the many other infectious diseases he is trying so hard to prevent and/or treat.

A few days ago, we saw a headline confirming what Sean has been saying all along, “Malaria killing thousands more than Ebola in West Africa.”

First, some quotes from that AP story, and then Sean’s reaction .

MICHELLE FAUL, December 28, 2014:  West Africa’s fight to contain Ebola has hampered the campaign against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that is claiming many thousands more lives than the dreaded virus. . . . Guinea’s drop in reported malaria cases this year by as much as 40 percent is not good news . . . . the decrease is likely because people are too scared to go to health facilities and are not getting treated for malaria. . . .  Some 15,000 Guineans died from malaria last year, 14,000 of them children under five. . . . about 1,600 people in Guinea have died from Ebola. . .  There was some positive news in Guinea — it had just completed a national mosquito net campaign against malaria when Ebola struck . . . Neighboring Liberia, on the other hand, suspended the planned distribution of 2 million nets.

ChildrenSEAN: This is a bummer of an article about malaria.  From the perspective of my pharmacy, one of our largest sellers is anti-malaria pills.  Which are the same drugs you take after you have it.  Once you have it, it will screw up the rest of your life and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ll have relapses from time to time that are just as bad as the first time and can last days or even weeks.  As an employer, it’s a big challenge for anyone running a business.  At any time, your employees get sick and disappear.

The other point raised by the article is how everyone got worked up about Ebola.  But thousands and thousands of more people die – or have their lives ruined – by Malaria every year.  And our other medicines we sell are all related to infant dehydration and diarrhea – another one of the main killers in Africa.  And it’s basically a 100% preventable disease, but caused by lack of sanitation and clean water.

Sucks.  Which is why every day, I work my butt off to make the dream of healthcare for everyone a reality.

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