Sierra Leone plans to bring in the military to enforce quarantine regulations. They will be authorised to search homes for victims. There are several reasons why this won’t solve the Ebola crisis, and some evidence to suggest it could actually further the spread of the disease.
Africa is steeped in superstition. Many believe that Ebola is actually caused by a curse placed upon an area or an individual. Many think that the medical help offered to suffers is useless, and that attending a hospital, with medical techniques that a huge proportion of the population has no understanding of is a death sentence. as a result of these two things many people resort to tradition African medicine in their search for a cure.
The Sierra Leone military will not have access to anywhere near the number of hazmat suits that will be required to do the job they are being ordered to do. People will be hostile, which is understandable, I wouldn’t take kindly to armed military raiding my home and hauling away my relatives either.
The situation will turn ugly very fast, and once the bullets start flying, and the blood starts flowing Ebola will spread further and faster than it would have done had the situation been left alone.
Just at the mention of this sufferers, and the relatives of sufferers have stopped reporting the illness to the authorities.
There have been issues with people not trusting that medical workers can help them — and even some rumors that doctors are causing Ebola. News stories cite families hiding infected relatives, and the BBC reports that dozens of people who have tested positive for Ebola are now missing in Sierra Leone.
In some areas, medical workers have been unable to do their jobs because of security concerns. And workers “have been threatened with knives, stones and machetes, their vehicles sometimes surrounded by hostile mobs,” according to the New York Times.
The Telegraph reports:
Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, said the response to the disease had been “woefully inadequate” and it was “moving faster than our efforts to control it”.
Her warnings – the starkest to date – were delivered to the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as they held a crisis summit to discuss how to curb the crisis, which has now claimed at least 729 lives.
“If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socio-economic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries,” Dr Chan said, according to a transcript seen by the Reuters news agency of her remarks to the summit in the Guinean capital, Conakry.
Well maybe if the World Health Organisation had put a travel ban in place and assisted with border closures at the beginning of the outbreak the situation may be more under control than it is now.
Dozens of victims who have tested positive for Ebola have gone to ground, preferring to be with their families than in a medical centre.
from the BBC:
A Sierra Leone woman who fled hospital after testing positive for the Ebola virus has died after turning herself in, health officials have told the BBC.
Her family had forcibly removed her from a public hospital on Thursday.
Saudatu Koroma’s is the first case of Ebola to be confirmed in the country’s capital Freetown, where there are no facilities to treat the virus….
Both she and her parents – who are suspected of having the virus – had been taken to Ebola treatment centres in the east of the country, health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis told the BBC.
The woman had been one of dozens of people who tested positive, but were unaccounted for, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana reports from the capital, Freetown.
Her case highlights Sierra Leone’s lack of preparedness in responding to the outbreak, our correspondent says, with no laboratory or treatment centre in Freetown.
If you add into the mix that the governments Germany and the USA have decided to fly infected patients halfway around the world for treatment you are left with a situation that can get out of hand very, very quickly.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.