Close  

Dikembe Mutombo records Ebola messages for US officials

/ 03:05 AM June 25, 2019
Dikembe Mutombo

FILE – In this Aug. 1, 2018, file photo, Dikembe Mutombo speaks during the opening ceremony of Basketball without Borders Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa. U.S. health officials are turning to a basketball hall of famer for help in one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history. Dikembe Mutombo is regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and is a well-known philanthropist in his native Congo. He recorded radio and video spots designed to persuade people to take precautions and get care that might stop the disease’s spread. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

NEW YORK — Unable to send disease fighters to help battle one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history, U.S. health officials are turning to basketball hall of famer Dikembe Mutombo for help.

Mutombo, regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and a well-known philanthropist in his native Congo, recorded radio and video spots designed to persuade people to take precautions and get care that might stop the disease’s spread.

ADVERTISEMENT

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began posting the spots Monday on its YouTube channel and on the agency’s website. Officials are trying to get radio and TV stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to air them.

More than 2,200 people have been reported ill — and about 1,500 have died — since an Ebola outbreak was declared in August in eastern Congo. It is the second deadliest outbreak of the lethal virus, which jumps from person to person quickly through close contact with bodily fluids.

FEATURED STORIES

Rebel attacks and community resistance have hurt Ebola response work in Congo. A World Health Organization doctor was killed in April, health centers have been attacked and armed groups have repeatedly threatened health workers. Because of safety concerns, the U.S. State Department last year ordered CDC disease specialists to stay out of the outbreak areas.

Mutombo, who moved to the U.S. in the 1980s intending to pursue a medical degree, told The Associated Press he understands where the distrust comes from.

“Someone who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t think like you, who is not from your village, who is from other places, just walk to your village with a nice beautiful white truck and telling you … ‘inject this chemical into your body to protect you from this deadly virus.’ That’s where there’s a fight. This is where we’re having a conflict,” he said.

“How do you that build trust? That’s the big problem we’re having in the Congo,” he said. “I believe as a son of Congo, I think my voice can be heard. Because everyone in the country knows my commitment to the humanity and the health.”

The idea for the PSA was sparked in February when Mutombo, a member of the CDC Foundation’s governing board who lives in Atlanta, was talking with Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director.

“We are deeply appreciative of his interest to try to get accurate information to the community,” Redfield said.

Mutombo, who turns 53 on Tuesday, previously did public service announcements focused on polio and yellow fever. A dozen years ago, his foundation established a 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown of Kinshasa.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new spots were recorded in Kiswahili, French and Lingala. They talk about recognizing the early signs of Ebola, early treatment and prevention measures.

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Congo, Dikembe Mutombo, Ebola, ebola outbreak, US
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
newsinfo

Communists mourn death of Nene Pimentel

October 20, 2019 09:33 PM

sports

Brownlee, Ginebra whip Magnolia for 3-2 record

October 20, 2019 09:16 PM

newsinfo

PNP ‘proud to inherit’ Nene Pimentel’s legacy

October 20, 2019 08:22 PM

newsinfo

Cops collar escaped NPA rebel in Northern Samar

October 20, 2019 08:15 PM



© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.