Rescued and forgotten?

By now there are several thousand people which have been cured from Ebola and have been released from hospitals. Here they are called survivors. But how does the live of a survivor proceed?

Survivor Abie Forna, age 35, with her husband
Survivor Abie Forna, age 35, with her husband By User:JuliaBroska [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

At the moment of leaving the hospital they should obtain an official certificate which states they are healthy. Additionally they should receive a packet with vitamins and medicine to strengthen their body. At least in theory. Personally I have met survivors which did not receive any of the above. Often they still have been very weak. I do not know how much time it will take to completely recover. This will probably also depend from various things such as the individual constitution of the patient, age, history of diseases, and more… In fact I have even heard that for a healthy person who receives quick help the chances of surviving Ebola are not so bad after all. Since in many cases the victims are poor, living in precarious hygienic conditions and often were not previously in good health, even quick help will not be enough.

In addition survivors often return to very difficult family relationships. Often other family members are ill or even dead. Frequently that includes the head of household and breadwinner. Families were also at least 21 days under quarantine and have consequentially lost all their earnings. Theoretically also post-quarantine households should receive a supportive food package but so far it seems to happen only on rare occasions. And from a food package alone people will not get a new job.

According to the NGO „Médecins sans Frontières‘ (MSF) about 30 people have survived the infection by the Ebola Virus in Guinea. They try to keep themselves and their fate in the background. Because if their story would be known, they and their families would face exclusion, expulsion and attacks.

In short, the survivors are celebrated as heroes on paper but in practice they are abandoned. A few local NGOs have taken initiatives to involve survivors in awareness campaigns. I welcome this very good initiatives personally. Rene raised the question during an interview with me if survivors are immune to Ebola. Meanwhile, I have the answer: Yes, they are immune! This means there is great potential to involve survivors in nursing care.

Happy are those who have defeated the aggressive and dangerous viral disease without serum. Among them the willingness is great to help others, so Charbonneau. This is especially true for people who have some form of a medical background. „These people are very interested to contribute their knowledge and communicate. This is a very big opportunity, „says Charbonneau. „You could, for example, help orphans or children who are still in hospitals and are under quarantine.

The Welthungerhilfe has launched its first project which involves the reintegration of survivors funded by the german Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. They deserve better than to be forgotten.


Philippe translates Julias articles to English language so that more people can have access to her reports and information.

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