Ebola Outbreaks in Congo, Declared a Global Health Emergency

ebola virus

A dreadful condition, the Ebola virus outbreak has widely spread in eastern Congo.  It is destroying Beni, a city having a population of 600,000 people. Many of the sick are staying at home for taking rest, but in doing so, they unknowingly are infecting caregivers and also those who mourn them.

Dr.Mathieu Kanyama, head of health promotion at the Ebola treatment center in Beni run by the Alliance for International Medical Action, or ALIMA said that people themselves are delaying the treatment as waiting for other family members to come but this is making things more complicated as the patient has to be isolated from others.

Within one year of the outbreak of Ebola virus, 1,700 and more have been killed and was declared a global health emergency this month. Since then it is rising in the community and Ebola virus is spreading in Beni. In 15 days period in July alone, 30 people died at home.

Dr. Gaston Tshapenda, who heads the Ebola virus response in Beni for Congo’s health ministry has told his teams to visit people houses for their help.

Health teams are now moving with megaphones trying to get the awareness out and going door-to-door to warn against Ebola virus attack.  It is found by the team of doctors that whosoever has died left behind someone developing a fever is not digested by people that really such Ebola virus attack is spreading and this disbelief is hampering the doctors to overcome with the situation. As the patients of Ebola virus attack is to be treated immediately. Once the time sets in then the patient will definitely die.

Ebola virus symptoms are similar to common problems like malaria and typhoid, so usually, people do self-medication with paracetamol to reduce fever. But the treatment is entirely different the patient has to be kept in isolation and away from the family.

Dr, Maurice Kakule brought very important things in front of people. He said that the common fear of people with respect to Ebola virus is that once they will go there then they are going to leave an Ebola treatment center in a body bag.

A few have heard of the problem of Ebola virus and went to Ebola treatment centers but there have been no survivors in their family, Since they saw relatives die at a treatment center, they have an instinct in their mind that people are killed there and that’s why they refuse to go.

They fear to visualize the condition that they will die alone and will be surrounded only by health care personnel covered in protective gear from head to toe. This thought makes them fearful.

For making the patient fearless and keeping them cool a different strategy was developed. The patients were kept in isolation, ALIMA’s Ebola treatment center in Beni places in their own transparent room called a “CUBE,” where they could see their loved ones from their beds. They were kept in another room with a glass window.

Dr. Maurice Kakule, he himself got infected with the Ebola virus while treating a sick woman at his clinic. Then immediately he was treated and is perfect now and is now trying to make it easier for those who are ill to get help in and around Beni, near the border with Uganda.

So, he and other survivors, who are now immune to the disease, run a motorcycle taxi ambulance. As soon as they receive a phone call for help they immediately goto homes, restore confidence in the sick and take them for medical care without infecting others.

But still, the measures needed to keep Ebola virus from spreading remain difficult for many people to accept.

“Since its outbreak in 2nd week of July, the cases are tremendously increasing and the affected people are taking rest at home.  But the health workers are convincing them to take treatment.  Congo people are just thinking superstitiously and are taking the guidance of a traditional spiritual healer.

Recently two days back, an incident took place in Congo, 2 months old baby Lahya’s lost both the parents due to Ebola virus, and a morgue team in protective clothing carried their covered bodies to a truck for a funeral procession to a Muslim cemetery on the edge of town.

ebola virus

Lahya too developed a fever but tested negative for Ebola. It is pity on the small kid who has a charming appearance with bulging cheeks and wearing gold earrings is in an orphanage for now, while her 3-year-old sister is being cared for by neighbors who hope to raise them both.

But the sisters are still kept isolated from each other as they will have to wait a bit longer to be reunited because their adoptive father and former nanny both are tested positive for Ebola and are being treated.

The irony is that all the Ebola virus attackers are taking the fateful decision. They are asking the doctors to cure them at home and are avoiding moving to treatment centers. This had led to trouble for Asifiwe Kavira, 24, who fell ill with Ebola along with eight of her relatives.

Though, health teams reached the house in Butembo, trying to convince them to seek treatment. But, said they wanted to treat their fevers at home. After three days of negotiations, Kavira finally agreed to move to hospital believing however she was on the edge of death.  Amazingly, out of all, she is the only one to survive. Rest all, her mother, grandmother, brother and four other relatives all died at home.  Her older sister joined her at the treatment center, but it was too late.

Now Kavira is also opening the people mindset and says, Ebola virus does exist because due to that she had lost her entire family.

Dr. Joanne Liu, president of Doctors without Borders, which is helping to fight the outbreak said that it is hard to accept that during Ebola virus sickness one will be put somewhere away from family knowing the 50% chances of survival. Despite this fact, they are still taking out the solutions and clinical trials are going on.



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