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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.