Via BBC News, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene writes a long, thoughtful Letter from Africa: Taking advantage of a crisis. Excerpt (but read the whole thing):
Proof that we are waking up to the gravity of the problem came with the arrival on the streets of Accra of the vice-president wearing a mask and ordering the clean-up of the city.
The mayor of Accra has announced that sites have now been found for waste disposal and mounds of rubbish that had been on the streets for months are being removed.
Whilst the officials are doing their bit to clean up the city, more work will have to be done on the personal hygiene level to be able to tame the ravaging cholera outbreak.
We shake hands a lot. That is how we greet each other; it is our way of showing you are at peace with your neighbour, it is our way of welcoming a stranger.
But we now hesitate before shaking hands and when we do, we surreptitiously apply sanitizer to our hands.
Maybe we should stop shaking hands and consider what the Indians do and hold hands to face, bowing to each other so each person keeps their germs to themselves?
Maybe the current ostentatious washing of hands in offices and banks with soap and water will become a firm habit.
The last census figures show that more than half the population of this country do not have toilets in their homes.
Maybe waiting for the possible arrival of Ebola in the midst of cholera will force us to deal with this unacceptable situation.
We love funerals; we love dead bodies and we have elaborate mortuary rituals.
Maybe the current crisis would force us to reconsider these practices?
Do we really have to continue keeping dead bodies for weeks and months and even years as we prepare to give "befitting burials"?
Who knows, cremation might even become an attractive option for dealing with our dead bodies?
To borrow a famous quote from JF Kennedy: "When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity."
Maybe we should accept this particular crisis and not waste it.