Ebola Outbreak! The good, the bad, the ugly
The Ebola epidemic starts today in peculiar relationship to the public which supports it. On the one hand, it must satisfy the requirements of truth which is presumably the desire of the supporting public to encourage measures that have been put in place to contain the outbreak.
Dilating on the good and bad sides of the outbreak is an opinion pool that may or may not be regarded as the fundamental truth of the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus disease. There are issues of international support, issues about delays in tackling the containment of the disease since the outbreak in Guinea, and measures that should have been taken at the Kissi Teng, Kissi Tongi and Kissi Kama chiefdoms and the Jawei chiefdom in the Kailahun district.
It is the purpose of this story to examine candidly, and in some detail, the whole problem involved in the messages to the public, and their acceptance of the truth and reality.
Government and its health development partners including civil society and the media have sensitized and educate the public, advised of its progress at every stage in its pursuit of that goal of truth, yet the denial syndrome continues across the country.
I have tried to confine my discussion to those practices and problems which are part of the normal life in the majority of family heads, households and communities. In general, it has been my purpose to interpret some of the fundamental philosophies, procedures and objectives of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to ensure that the Ebola outbreak is contain through a command and control mechanism which demands extra ordinary measures.
STIGMA AND INSECURITY
The Ebola has overtaken all our health interventions and we must not allow Ebola to undermine the efforts of government and its partners in building structures that would restore peace, development and the country’s economy. Laying the foundation and creating confidence on the general public has been very hectic.
The reaction against members of our burial teams and nurses across the country shows how insecure certain of them are in public eyes and less informed communities. In general, the majority of the populace is well informed but the denial syndrome continues with cultural practices and other beliefs. Politics can also not be exempted in the fight against the growing spread of the disease.
Any public long untouched by the services and influences of the Ebola virus disease is almost certain to be dogmatic with the actions of landlord and ladies executing ejectment notices to health workers working in Holding and Treatment Centres and major hospitals in the country. Nurses are now shying away from TV camera because of stigma and fear of being in the ugly hands of landlords.
GOOD BAD AND UGLY
The good part of the outbreak is that it exposes weak health system, create room for improvement, provides the necessary tools for improvement, filled gaps on infrastructure, equipment and human resource capacity in our major health facilities with more ambulances, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and drugs, professional training of health workers on the new and strange Ebola virus disease, recruitment of more nurses, facilitate experience sharing with foreign specialist medical professionals, create jobs, and strengthen collaboration between the military and the Health Ministry among others.
The discharged of Ebola survivors is a success story but the stigma inflicted on them by some community members is saddening. The denial syndrome, harboring patients, infecting health workers with false pretense at Outpatients in major hospitals and Peripheral Health Units continues to pose a threat to the clarion call of President Koroma to concertedly fight the disease and contain the outbreak, a very ugly situation.
Sierra Leoneans, together we can end Ebola if put aside politics, denial, and negative traditional and cultural practices.
By Jonathan Abass Kamara
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