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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs