Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Targeting Aid Workers

"There are not a lot of diseases that can be transmitted by corpses."
"It's hard for people to comprehend that the dead body is actually a threat."
Meredith Stakem, adviser, Catholic Relief Services
Few medical options for American Ebola patients | USA NOW
While the rest of the world looks on, and aid organizations appeal for charitable donations to help them alleviate the strains on local health care workers whose numbers are steadily declining as they too fall victim to Ebola virus, and the United Nations speaks of the need for the international community to respond to this outbreak with its monumental mortality rate, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal desperately attempt to devise ways to manage those infected in the hope of restraining the outbreak, already proving unmanageable with their inadequate resources.

Such measures, draconian under any other circumstances, as lockdowns, persuading people as was done in Sierra Leona, to remain in their homes while health delegates are sent door to door to find and isolate those infected, to hand out soap and emphasize the need to exercise sanitary measures and to explain that harbouring the ill will only lead to its spread, and engaging in the usual signs of respect for the dead, by handling them, will most certainly lead to increased infections, are a sign of the desperation of authorities to gain control.

Disinfection of public places that teams working to safely dispose of bodies by swift burial, are engaged with, contradict custom and tradition, leaving the bereaved not only mourning their dead, but unable to pay their usual respectful homage to them through the exigencies of disease prevention, leaving people angry and disgruntled. It is difficult to persuade people whose experience of the wider world is limited and whose way of life is suddenly entirely disrupted with danger lingering and threatening, that they must themselves observe safety procedures through hygiene and avoidance of contact.

The International Federation of Red Cross Societies has seem their volunteer workers attacked, their vehicles vandalized by angry family members of those who have died. A fairly widespread belief that the disease they are being threatened with is one that has been deliberately set loose among them by conniving foreigners who wish them ill, under the guise of giving them aid poisons the atmosphere of trust. Outright denials that Ebola even exists, along with fears that those purportedly aiding them are really carriers of the virus, has created a situation of utter dysfunction.

Crowds of villagers in Guinea have stoned regional health offices. Health care teams attempting to bury bodies are doing their utmost to ameliorate the dreadful situation threatening and attaining a wider scope. Red Cross-assigned health workers who were dispatched to educate people about Ebola, and the journalists who were accompanying them were abducted and killed in Guinea. That is the death of eight people involved in attempting to give aid and educate people to enable them to protect themselves against the virus.

To date, efforts to slow the spread of the disease in the most affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, have been ineffective, due partly to the shortage of isolation wards, equipment and health care workers, and partly because the population itself is resistant to the reality of a virus that is spread by touching its victims, alive or dead. The lethality of the disease leads to irrational responses, where those in danger believe that the very people who risk their lives to help them, are suspected of bringing the disease with them.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet