Government health officials, West African representatives meet at Saint Peter’s to plan attack on Ebola plague

September 30, 2014


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.Representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health, the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health of New Jersey, and members of the Sierra Leonean and Liberian communities in New Jersey met at Saint Peter’s University Hospital on Sept. 12 to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and develop an action plan to help curtail the spread of the deadly virus in those nations through expanded education and medical outreach to those countries and their U.S. populations here in New Jersey.
Tabiri M. Chukunta, D. Min., executive director, community outreach, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, moderated the meeting in an attempt to kick-start the inform-the-public messaging in the Garden State.
His counterpart in the effort was M. Carolyn Daniels, executive director of minority and cultural affairs for New Jersey, who noted: “Representatives from the N.J. Department of Health's Communicable Disease Service and Office of Minority and Multicultural Health are grateful to Saint Peter's Healthcare System and its community outreach Office for organizing the meeting with key leaders from the New Jersey West African communities to discuss ways in which our residents and their loved ones can become better informed about  the Ebola epidemic. It is very important to the Department of Health that our residents from West Africa understand that we are concerned not only about their health but also for their loved ones in the West African nations that have been hardest hit by this epidemic.”
Chukunta added:  “I am pleased that Dr. Daniels and the N.J. Department of Health is partnering with Saint Peter’s Health System to work with New Jersey West African community. The Ebola outbreak is a human problem, not an African one.”
During the meeting, Sierra Leone’s minister plenipotentiary to the United Nations,  Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, provided details about the steps undertaken  by the government of Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola outbreak, including establishment of an emergency operations committee, the declaration of a state of health emergency, the quarantining of communities, the purchase of 20 ambulances (16 of which were already in operation), use of mobile biomedical labs, and a three-day lockdown on travel that began on Sept. 19. He made a desperate appeal to the CDC, Department of Health and Saint Peter’s to help his country with medical supplies, including drugs and protective gear, and logistics for healthcare personnel.
“I cannot stress enough the dire need for these supplies,” the minister said. “We take these materials for granted in the United States, but these supplies like gloves, goggles, masks, gowns, chlorine, bleach, hand sanitizers and protective gear are the difference between the destruction and survival of our country.”
Others echoed his concerns.
Discussions also touched on what methods could be used to reach West Africans in New Jersey to sensitize them to how the outbreak affects them and how they can protect themselves, especially when visited by relatives and friends from Ebola-affected countries.
Chukunta pledged that those government agencies and West African representatives present at the meeting would continue their dialogue to advance the educational and aid effort.
Photo Caption: Meeting at Saint Peter’s University Hospital to plan community education regarding the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa are, left to right: Leeroy Kabs-Kanu, minister plenipotentiary of the Sierra Leone community in New Jersey; Pavi Jalloh, president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Leone All People’s Congress; Alhaji Shamsu Deen-Cole, a leader in the Sierra Leone community of New Jersey; Tabiri M. Chukunta, executive director of community outreach at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System; M. Carolyn Daniels, executive director of minority and cultural affairs for New Jersey; Abdul H. Gabisi, deputy chairman of the Sierra Leone Community of New Jersey; Suzanne Miro, community health expert for the State of New Jersey; Prathit Kulkarni, MD, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Joseph Z. Tolbert and Gwen Delbridge of New Jersey’s Liberian community.


About Saint Peter’s University Hospital 


About Saint Peter’s Healthcare System
Saint Peter’s Healthcare System Inc., parent company of the Saint Peter’s healthcare delivery system, is comprised of Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a 478-bed acute-care teaching hospital; Saint Peter’s Foundation, the fundraising arm of the hospital; and Saint Peter’s Health and Management Services Corp., which oversees the system’s outpatient facilities. These include the CARES Surgicenter; New Brunswick Cardiac Cath Lab; Community Care Services Inc.; the Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center Inc., a residential skilled nursing facility in Somerset, and Saint Peter’s Adult Day Center in Monroe. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. For more information about Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, please visit or call 732-745-8600.


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