Sheriff Mahmud Ismail
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 January 2015
The Ebola virus causes a very painful disease. It usually starts with headache, as the patient’s condition deteriorates. Pain engulfs the body, muscle ache, fatigue and loss of appetite set in.
Diarrhoea and vomiting then follows, causing hunger and dehydration.
Weakened by pain, starvation and thirst, the patient now becomes a punch bag to the virus – helpless.
As the wicked disease continues to mercilessly inflict more agony, bleeding and bloody diarrhoea herald the ghastly terminal manifestations of a battered immunity. No wonder the high mortality associated with the virus.
Since the epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone in May 2014, according to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, there have been 7,839 confirmed cases and 2,718 confirmed deaths.
There are as many as 2,082 suspected cases and 158 suspected deaths. There are also up to 287 probable cases and 208 probable deaths.
But those who survived, lived to tell a story of cruelty and suffering.
Emmanuel Kamara is a strong believer in Christ and calls himself a “prayer warrior”. But when the Ebola virus struck him, his faith in God was seriously tested. “I vomited until my throat started aching. I asked God, why are you doing this to me?”
Alimatu Mansaray, 26, told me that when the virus really hit her, she lost control and was unconscious for some time. “I didn’t even know from which part of my body I was losing fluids – from the back, the front – everywhere.”
Adama Tonronka, 24, broke in tears as she shares her sorrow; “I vomited blood and my stool was also bloody; I felt pain all over my body. I also lost my 3 year old son.”
This virus rudely challenges the caring nature and hospitality of Sierra Leoneans, capitalizing on the vulnerability of the poor. It has wreaked such incredible havoc.
A a change in traditional practices and behaviour of an unsuspecting population requires a change in culture.
Naturally, this will time and a lot of education. The consequence is the calamity that has befallen many.
People should stop harbouring the sick; avoid body contact with infected persons; stop washing the dead bodies of their loved ones; seek safe burial; and request immediate medical help if they fall ill.
But, if medical services are made readily available and the general living conditions of the people improved, such deaths and suffering could be prevented in any future outbreak.
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