News / Africa

Sierra Leone Wages Local Battle Against Ebola, Fear

Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) medical workers deliver food to patients kept in an isolation area at their Ebola treatment center in Kailahun, July 20, 2014.
Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) medical workers deliver food to patients kept in an isolation area at their Ebola treatment center in Kailahun, July 20, 2014.
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of EbolaCDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
x
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola

The Ebola outbreak that began in Guinea a few months ago has spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization now reports more than 700 deaths in the region. In this country, more than 230 have died and more than that are in quarantine and undergoing treatment.

There is no known vaccine or cure, so past medical experience was to isolate the patients so the virus did not spread. Unlike previous outbreaks, this 2014 outbreak has not subsided.

In declaring a public health emergency this week, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone ordered that all Ebola patients quarantined at home. He  vowed house-to-house searches for those exposed after families refused treatment at isolation centers.

Stepping up the fight against Ebola in Kailahun

Health care specialists and key stakeholders in Sierra Leone have stepped up the fight against Ebola. Already, suspected cases have been reported in the capital, Freetown, and other provincial towns. Until recently, outbreaks occurred in rural areas.

Frontline fighters against Ebola in Kailahun, Sierra Leone
Frontline fighters against Ebola in Kailahun, Sierra Leonei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


The first case of Ebola was reported in Kailahun District – a frontline in the Ebola virus battle - on May 25, after a nurse came into contact with an Ebola carrier and died. Since then, the death toll has been steadily increasing especially in the eastern districts of Kailahun and Kenema. Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) operates a treatment center here.

Medical experts say the symptoms of the Ebola virus are fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches that lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point, some victims begin to have problems with bleeding.

How the virus grows

The disease may spread within a population through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of others, or from an infected animal such as a fruit bat or monkey. Once infection occurs, the virus may be spread from one person to another. That includes touching or washing the body of an Ebola victim.  Caregivers may come into contact with diarrhea, vomit, semen and blood from an infected family member. 

Scientists also warn against eating wildlife that could carry Ebola, including monkeys, chimpanzees, wild antelope, fruit bats and other bush meat.  

In the last two months, health workers have mounted a crusade against Ebola through radio broadcasts, street shows, workshops, and community outreach.  The effort aims to educate the public about the spread of the virus and to explain how the use of a disinfectant like chlorine, soaps and detergents can kill it on common surfaces.   

The campaign is supported by U.N. agencies, the International Rescue Committee, the non-government health from Ireland – Goal - government and other donors.

Police assist in the quarantine

A police source says 70 police personnel have been deployed at various entry points in the district of Kailahun and Kenema to allow health workers to screen passengers coming from Ebola-affected communities.  The rationale is to restrict the movement of people and prevent the spread of the disease.  People with have high fevers are further tested for malaria and typhoid.  Those suspected of having Ebola are quarantined.

“For now, we offer palliative treatment to manage the Ebola fever,” says Finda Josephine Saidu, deputy matron at the Kenema Government Hospital where four doctors direct the care of the Ebola victims. “Basically, we are managing the cases since there are no specific treatments.  We replace the fluids lost through vomiting, and use drugs to control the bleeding.”

Josephine Saidu talked about the devastating numbers of victims the virus has attacked, especially on health workers at the management unit.

“For Kenema District, 13 nurses have died. Six are current being cared for at the Ebola management center.”

Nurses here are putting their lives on the line to save the country from the epidemic. They urge the public to help by reporting suspected cases to the hospital as soon as possible. Time is crucial. Saidu said the ebola is real and can be prevented if reported early. 

Nurses suffer discrimination from frightened public

In a recent briefing about the creation of an Ebola task force, the mayor of Kenema City Council, Joseph Keifala, said the fight against Ebola must be localized.

“Councilors and ward committee members should be seen championing the fight against Ebola at ward level,” said the mayor. “They will support the surveillance team, report suspected ebola cases to the center, promote the use of chlorine and compliment the efforts of the social mobilization team.”

Keifala urged the public to cooperate with health workers in surveillance and control. He asked people not to discriminate against disease survivors and nurses working at the Ebola management unit.

“This may be a challenge.  Health workers say there are a lot of misconceptions about ebola.  A few weeks ago, the police arrested a man who allegedly assaulted a nurse, accusing her of having the illness.  Some believe nurses carry the disease or inject the illness into people.  

“Cases have been reported of suspected ebola carriers refusing to get into ambulances, and of families abandoning corpses so health workers cannot follow them.”

Health workers say the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone will continue until the disease finally dies out.

The religious community believes that the fight against Ebola needs a spiritual approach. Special prayers are now being offered in mosques and churches.

 

 

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs