Schlagwort-Archiv: prevention

Fear of returning from Ebola affected regions back to Europe / Germany

It might be in the far future, but every now and then the thought pops up:

  • How will friends and family react when I return?
  • Will they avoid me?
  • Will they tell me made-up stories in order to prevent a meeting?
  • Will my family count-down the days and only welcome me after 21 have past?
  • And what is my own position?
  • Am I a risk for my family?
  • Should I avoid contact on my own initiative to protect my loved ones?
  • Should I put myself in quarantine for 21 days?

Reports from others show, the reactions are mixed. And this is also what I expect to encounter in my own environment. Initially I had planned to participate in a yoga retreat in March. But could I do so now? Could I carry the responsibility? Body contact, after sweat drenching exercise, is unavoidable. Should I keep my duty station secret? Even lie?

I say it straight forward: I haven’t done my decision yet. You might think I’m a bad person and that I’m knowingly put others at risk. But the facts are on my side: Only after developing signs of a sickness, an Ebola patient becomes contagious. As long as you keep certain procedures and keep up regular monitoring, measure your temperature and observe suspicious symptoms, there is practically no risk for your contact group.

However, doubts remain. How can I act responsible and avoid spending my annual leave in self-made quarantine at the same time?

This article is my translation of the original German post.

Julia Broska

Julia arbeitet für die Welthungerhilfe im Projektmanagement in Sierra Leone. Sie beschreibt in diesem Blog ihre persönlichen Eindrücke. Ihre Meinung muss sich nicht mit der der Welthungerhilfe decken. Bevor Julia nach Sierra Leone kam war sie in Nord Korea im Einsatz. Sie schreibt auch Artikel für den offiziellen Blog der Welthungerhilfe

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How to protect oneself from Ebola

I am not working as medical staff. Still I had contact with people who suffered from Ebola, with people who have been in quarantine and also with survivors. Before going to Sierra Leone I had an online course of 90 minutes length, including discussion, nothing more. Of course I clicked through the internet and I have tried to search information about all my questions I had at that time. Questions that – while not being in Sierra Leone yet – seemed very important to me:

  1. How long could the virus survive outside of a human body?
  2. Can infections be transported via animals?
  3. Can I still go on the streets while I have a small cut in my finger?

During the first three weeks in Sierra Leone I have checked my body temperature twice a day. Just to make sure everything is fine. I did this additionally to the approximately 5 checks per day that happen while entering and leaving my office, meetings, hotels. I have extensively cleaned my hands with a brush and used disinfection at least 10 times per day. I would not touch my face without washing hands first.

By now I stopped doing all of this. I live a normal life. I still disinfect my hands after washing them and obviously I cannot avoid  the temperature checks on the streets. Also, I still try to avoid body contact with other humans. Other than that I do not take any particular caution. It doesn’t seem necessary since Ebola will only be transmitted via body fluids. Therefore, in normal life there is almost no chance for infection. In mass media this is presented differently. But I will write about media reports in a few days.

I think the biggest danger for people like me who don’t work in the health sector is to get a different disease or have an accident. Two things that would force me to go to a local hospital. The hospitals are very crowded and one cannot be sure not to have other Ebola victims in there. The hospitals also do not have good equipment which yields another danger. That is why people suggested to take medicine that prevents Malaria. Malaria and Ebola have similar symptoms in the beginning. So a „maybe“ Ebola case in a crowded hospital can due to the low hygiene quickly become a real Ebola case.

This article was translated from Julia’s German Article: Wie schuetze ich mich vor einer Infektion?


Rene ist PhD Student und blogger. Er setzt sich fuer freies Wissen und freie Bildung ein. Dadurch ist er auf wikiversity, wikimedia commons und gelegentlich auf der Wikipedia aktiv. Er unterstuetzt Julia ihre Erfahrungen aus Sierra Leone zu verbreiten.

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Who are our beneficiaries: the people sick with Ebola or the people still healthy?

Recently I had an interesting discussion with one of my colleagues: Who are the beneficiaries of our intervention? Of course you’re first thinking of the sick. People who contracted Ebola have to be treated and – if possible – cured. You think of the families in quarantine that anxiously expect the end of their incubation period, hoping not to show symptoms themselves. This way of thinking is expressed as well by the Time Magazine, announcing Ebola fighters as the TIME person of the year 2014, emphasizing the achievements of the medical personnel. They are the ones with a real an eminent danger of contracting Ebola themselves.

On the other hand contracted less than 7,000 Sierra Leoneans EVD so far. With a total population of approximately 5 million. A target group of 7,000 people can be called manageable. But unfortunately, the opposite is the case: The 4,993,000 Sierra Leoneans that stayed uninfected until now are our target group. To protect the healthy from infection is the main objective. And that is not the task of doctors or nurses. Other things are needed here:

  • Creating awareness
  • Education
  • Changing behavioural habits
  • Coordination and logistics

Prevention is the key. That is a message being distributed by the government as well:

Stop Ebola Campaign by Sierra Leona government. von User:JuliaBroska [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

But of course it is less attractive to walk from house to house distributing leaflets than caring for the sick and the needy, dressed up like an astronaut. The same concept was found valid in the fight against HIV: Donor prefer investment in HIV drugs over simply distributing condoms. The Gates Foundation makes the following statement:

Our largest investment is in efforts to discover and develop an HIV vaccine.

Without knowledge of the figures, my impression is the following: The majority of donors, UN bodies and NGOs focussed on the medical sector in the Ebola Response. Treatment centre are being built almost overnight, there is heavy investment in vaccines and treatment research, physicians from all over the world are being recruited. That fits to the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) (UN Resolution 2177 of the UN Security Council).

Their main task is the logistical distribution of treatment centres, vehicles and telecommunication equipment in the countries affected the hardest by Ebola.

Those activities involve high costs. But they will not change the fact that the probability of survival of the 7,000 infected are highly dependent on chance and on their general health condition. On top of that, most activities are implemented extremely slowly and their results will not impact the current crisis, it is rather a provision for future ones.

What is needed on a much bigger scale is social mobilization, well planned and organised. The people have to wake up. Social control is needed. Certain behaviours have to stop. Each and every Sierra Leonean, who refuses an invitation to a burial, is a hero. Each and every one who keeps her door shot to visitors, is a hero. Everybody avoiding body contact even to close friends, is a hero.

I see many parallels to the HIV epidemic for example in South Africa. There I heard people saying: “Our traditions are older than HIV. We will not change our behaviour.” But new infectious diseases can kill the holder of the tradition. The other way around is certainly less common.

This article is a translation from the original German version.

Julia Broska

Julia arbeitet für die Welthungerhilfe im Projektmanagement in Sierra Leone. Sie beschreibt in diesem Blog ihre persönlichen Eindrücke. Ihre Meinung muss sich nicht mit der der Welthungerhilfe decken. Bevor Julia nach Sierra Leone kam war sie in Nord Korea im Einsatz. Sie schreibt auch Artikel für den offiziellen Blog der Welthungerhilfe

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