Via The Guardian, another excellent report by quarantine worker Isaac Bayoh: Life on the Ebola frontline: 'Success stories of survivals have a big impact'. Excerpt:
The new year is well and truly here and our hopes of ending this virus are gradually building now that one district in Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola-free.
But this battle is being won at a great price. We have fought a hard fight. We salute our fallen heroes and everyone who has helped in one way or the other. But despite the decrease in the infection rate and increase in numbers surviving the virus, fear, panic and worries are in no way fading in people’s lives.
“Until we are told that we are Ebola-free in this country and our surrounding neighbours, we cannot be OK because you never know what will happen, just one confirmed case is a disaster,” says Edward Koroma Jr, a local volunteer, who travelled back to his home village from the city to help sensitise people about Ebola after he lost his sister to the virus. He told me he did not want any of his people in the village to experience what his sister experienced and that no family member should go through what they went through.
Nevertheless, people are highly optimistic that this virus will end soon if we continue this decrease in the infection rate.
The elimination of the virus must happen not just at the top of society – ordinary people have stood up to protect their own communities. Every village in this part of the country has a checkpoint which is managed by local volunteers. Before you are allowed to get through, you have to give your name, where you are from and where you are going. Then your temperature is taken. If your temperature is higher than normal, you will be asked to sit for a while and then do another check later. If it is still the same then they will have to involve the health workers.
Paul is one of those volunteers who is giving up his time to help protect his community. He is just 17 years old and came back to his parents in the village after the Ebola virus closed our schools. He told me of his sister’s pregnancy and he clearly believes it is because she has been sitting and doing nothing at home.
In Sierra Leone, teenage pregnancy is one of the more pervasive problems affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls, even before Ebola. Just like Paul’s sister, many other girls have got pregnant. Even my neighbour’s daughter, who had a great future ahead of her, is now sitting at home pregnant. One district alone has had about 187 teenagers who have got pregnant during this Ebola crisis. We need to do a lot to stop this, or we are going to have a very small number of girls in schools when they reopen.
Just as this virus exposed our weak health system, as well as other sectors in our country, we must not allow social issues like these to remain the way they are after Ebola.
This outbreak has brought so many difficulties. As we are kicking this virus with all our remaining strength and efforts, we still have something else to worry about: hardship.
Many who had been the main provider have been taken away from their families by the silent hand of death, or now live without a job to support their families. We look forward again to the moment when things can either go back to the way they were before, or perhaps even be better.
Things were difficult before Ebola and the worry is that they are going to get harder after it.