There has been one topic over the past few weeks that has crept into my mind over and over again no matter what I was up to – the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Every headline, every article, every e-mail and every conversation I’ve had with friends, colleagues and the SOS-Family from the affected area take me out of everyday life afresh.
The situation in the region affected by the Ebola virus is unimaginable and especially painful to witness since it was just a few months ago that I had spent time there and met happy, open, inspired and active people every day. The images and reports I’ve been receiving from friends and colleagues on the ground are heart-breaking. The contrast is just devastating.
People, who cherish being with their friends and family, have to accept the fact that they might be separated after being diagnosed. Neighbours, who you’ve often cooked and celebrated with, die all of a sudden and aren’t even allowed to be buried. Children, who want to be cared for and hugged, are on their own. The most important safety measure in all of the three countries is to touch no one and nothing unnecessarily. The fear of getting infected and the terror the deadly virus is spreading is changing everything in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea!
The little that the people in this region have – solidarity, closeness, doctors’ life-saving support – is in danger.
When I received a message from Monrovia, all of this became immediately clear to me again. The SOS-Medical Center there, which was open 24/7 for the past few months to everyone and had been really busy, had to temporarily close a few days ago. A nurse got infected with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) while attending to a relative patient outside of the SOS-Medical Center and died recently.It is shocking – the Ebola virus is relentless, making no distinction between helpers and the infected.Nevertheless, new volunteers keep arriving, more aid is being provided from around the world and new security measures are being implemented to be able to continue fighting the Ebola virus.
With the support of the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the SOS-Medical Center staff in Monrovia was given a revised training in order to be able to provide treatment for patients more safely. The SOS-Medical Center has re-opened. Co-workers at the Center are giving their all to be there for their patients and for the people who are helping to fight the virus on the ground.