Published on Aug 26, 2014
Into the Hot Zone: NGO’s fight to stem the tide of the deadly Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone
The deadly haemorrhagic Ebola virus has wiped out whole villages in Sierra Leone. At the epicentre of the outbreak is Kailahun, a town where aid workers are risking their lives to deal with the crisis.
“We are now going to the house, and get the volunteers – the Dead Body Management Team – and they will proceed with the burial”, explains a Red Cross worker. His boiler suited unit is responding to the unexplained death of a middle aged man. The body must be treated with all the precautions afforded to an Ebola patient. Informing the locals of what is happening to the deceased diffuses tension, and helps to defeat the fear and paranoia spreading among the shocked communities. “There’s a lot of beliefs in black magic and those traditional beliefs, so people often explain things through witchcraft and curses. All those things come together… to result in the explosive outbreaks” says Dr Richard Broome. It is up to brave volunteers and local medics to educate communities afflicted by the brutal disease that operates by “overwhelming the body with the virus”. With the number of confirmed deaths increasing, it is important to focus on the few survivors who pull through the virus’ 21 day cycle. The individuals and NGOs fighting and dying with their patients now look to a concerted international response.
ABC Foreign Correspondent – Ref. 6237
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