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May 23
1941 - SCV's first real movie house, the American Theater, dedicated in Newhall [story]
American Theater


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Nov 1, 2014

JenniferFischerA friend of mine works in the field of global education. She shared with me recently some pretty incredible information: In the entire county of Liberia, there are 45 doctors. Forty-five.

If you’re not 100-percent clear on where Liberia is, it is a nation in West Africa. If you are also not sure why that low number of doctors matters, although I should think it’s pretty obvious that it matters no matter what, right now this small number of doctors is pretty important, given that Liberia is one of the countries in West Africa deeply affected by Ebola. More than 2,300 individuals have died from Ebola in Liberia since March.

Liberia had begun to turn around its high infant mortality rate and had also begun to improve maternity care, but of course with so few doctors in a country grappling with Ebola, there are concerns that maternity care will suffer with 45 doctors available for a country with a population of 4.5 million and Ebola spreading rapidly.

Importantly, Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers) is heavily involved in Liberia, doing work not only related to Ebola, but also helping to provide antimalarial medicines, also greatly needed.

As I’ve watched fears and concerns about Ebola being raised in the U.S., I find myself coming back to that magic number: 45.

It serves as a reminder of many things, most notably that concerns that Ebola will spread as rapidly in the U.S. as it has in West Africa should be taken with a grain of salt – or several.

Our healthcare system is substantially different from the healthcare systems of the countries struggling with Ebola at this time.

For example, a friend of mine has probably herself seen 45 different doctors over the last few months as she struggles to find a diagnosis for her ailments, and our family alone has seen 10 different doctors in just the past few weeks – not to mention countless other medical professionals. I was recently at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, registering students for our Spotlight On Hope Film Camps for pediatric cancer patients, and I realized that Children’s Hospital L.A. itself has more than 600 individuals on staff as medical professionals.

Through all of this, I’m reminded to be grateful for the healthcare workers and infrastructure that exists in the U.S. and of the importance of improved medical care for all – no matter the country.

I recently heard Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute speak, and he shared of his efforts, years ago, to get the world community to focus on committing resources to build stronger healthcare systems in West Africa. Few people were listening, and the response from many around the world was that it really didn’t matter.

Now, as Ebola is spreading rapidly in West Africa, and beginning to spread beyond, people are realizing that it matters.

Sachs rightly pointed out that it mattered before – from an ethical and moral point of view. Ethically and morally, we should all be seeking to build a world in which everyone has access to medical care, and I agree. However, if the ethical and moral argument does not compel us all, perhaps Ebola will as this epidemic illustrates how quickly diseases can spread and how poor medical care in one part of the world can affect us all.

I am grateful not only for quality medical care in my own country, but also for organizations like Doctors Without Borders and the Earth Institute that seek to create a world in which quality medical care is available to all, and I commend the medical professionals volunteering their time to go to West Africa.

I’ve seen lots of superheroes walking around lately because of Halloween, but those medical professionals are the real superheroes.

So, in honor of them, I want to say thank you to medical workers throughout the world, as well as to emergency responders, firefighters and many others who have made a commitment to serving others.

We’re rapidly moving toward Thanksgiving, and it’s officially November, so I’m kicking it off with gratitude. I hope you’ll join me. Take the time today to thank someone who is doing good work for others. Trust me: Those two words can make a big difference.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

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