It's a scary reality. I'm sure many of you in the US have heard about it on the news. We have been following it closely both in our preparation to come & while we have been here. Just recently a mission team from Texas cancelled their trip here just days before departure and our church has postponed plans for a fall trip because if the serious risks.
This week I had the opportunity to support our friends here at the Hope Center has they held a community meeting on Ebola.
Community leaders and medical professionals came and filled the center's meeting room to receive information and ask questions. Incorrect information, confusion and fear can spread so quickly around the world, from person to person, in the news and social media. Can you imagine it here? From village to village? So many people reacting in different ways- some in fear and panic, some not taking the threat seriously, some indifferent, many uneducated and uninformed, some not knowing anything at about it at all- except for a billboard or sign they may have seen on the side of the road (if they can read).
I watched hand after hand raise with questions about the virus.
We handed out materials so these leaders can take this information and share it with their neighbors and communities.
They had lots of questions?!?
What is Ebola? What are the actual up to date statistics of how it's effecting the country? How is it spread? What are signs and symptoms? Who is at risk? How can it be prevented?
It was a blessing to sit next to Donald and other friends and help them share this information- including my friend Chuck, a registered nurse who speaks amazing Krio. (It was his last morning here in Sierra Leone and after the meeting he rushed off to the airport.)
Ebola is a serious threat but education is the key. So true of many life threatening issues here in Africa. There are many threats that carry some of the same symptoms and can result in death that effect the people of Sierra Leone. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever and other hemorrhagic fevers are serious threats and dangers. Some are treatable and unfortunately, some not curable at all. It's a heartbreaking fact that where people live and if they have access to health care can dictate whether one survives illness and disease. The government is offering free Ebola treatment in all government health facilities here, but some people do not seek medical care when they are sick and some people may not know it's free.
Praying for the people of Africa!
Please join us!
Current Ebola information:
As of Monday June 16th's the update from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone says--
A total of 193 cases have been officially tested with 83 Laboratory Confirmed cases and 20 confirmed deaths. (That was almost a week ago, numbers can change quickly.)
The majority of active cases are located near the boarders of Guinea & Liberia. These statistics are only the lab tested and confirmed cases. If people do not seek medical care there is not record of the illness or official cause of death.
Ebola is a virus. There is no cure or vaccine. It is possible to survive the effects of the virus as it runs it's course with medical care. It spreads quickly from person to person.
Ebola is spread through:
Direct contact with wounds, body fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, urine or stool of an infected person. Handling of persons who have died of Ebola. Eating dead animals especially monkeys, chimpanzees and bats. Eating fruits that have been bitten by or partially eaten by bats or wild animals.
Signs & symptoms:
Usually starts with a high fever and any one of the following: diarrhea, vomiting, body weakness, headache, sore throat, abdominal pain, skin rash- the affected person may also suffer from bleeding in vomit, stool & urine or from any part of the body.
As you can imagine in areas with minimal/no sanitation or poor hygiene the dangers are great.