Ebola Outbreak Update
In September we had the great privilege of receiving a visit from Doctor Jo Lusi, founder of the HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma, DR Congo. He came to the WorldShare office to both thank us for our longstanding support of the hospital, and to update us on the ongoing crisis which was featured in our last E-News and in the national media: The outbreak of Ebola spreading down the north Kivu province.
What is the current situation like on the ground?
“Ebola is really an epidemic that has been a disaster, a killer. We have lost a lot of people – more than 2,000 people – and it is a disease that decimates villages. It goes fast: if there is no help, you can lose an entire family or a whole street. It is a disaster.”
How do you deal with such a disaster?
“We are so happy that the international community has quickly responded and helped us, rescued us. Ebola is still there but HEAL Africa – the hospital where WorldShare has invested a lot – remains determined to try to prevent Ebola and carry out triage in Goma (there are currently 4 confirmed cases in Goma town). Cases of Ebola are most common in Beni and Butemo – and in other villages – but in Goma, through prevention work, we are trying to stop it from expanding.”
What problems have arisen when trying to prevent and treat Ebola?
“The problem of the vaccination and treatment of Ebola has been that people were not well prepared. They were amazed to see that people came from America and Europe with new vehicles to treat them, yet there were no Africans associated with the prevention. And so, they thought that these people were bringing Ebola instead of understanding that they were coming to prevent it and to help them.”
How have you tried to solve this problem?
“Thanks to the counsellors and chaplains that we have been training in every village, people now understand and, of course, can see how dangerous Ebola is. They have begun to accept the prevention work and so the situation is improving every day. We know that soon, Ebola will be stopped completely because people are accepting the treatment now.”
HEAL Africa have also been a partner in the setting up of a treatment and holding centre in Beni (see right hand photo below), where potential sufferers are taken, assessed and treated. The hospital is distributing handwashing equipment (see left hand photo below) and patients are also coming to the hospital to clean their hands with chlorine solution, in order to prevent this disease from spreading.
We are grateful to Dr Jo Lusi for coming to share with us and are encouraged to see that progress is being made, thanks to the training HEAL Africa Hospital are able to provide, in part due to the generous support of donors at WorldShare. But there remains much to be done before this crisis is over, and so we shall continue to closely support HEAL Africa in the amazing work it is undertaking to deal with the challenge of Ebola.