Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord – James 5:14
When the Ebola virus epidemic broke out in West Africa in 2013, its presence, scare, and spread to other parts of the world lasted up to 2016. On the eastern side of the African continent, there is an ongoing Ebola virus epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda that started in 2018. It is also called the Kivu Ebola epidemic. It began on August 1 2018, upon confirmation of four cases that tested positive for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the DRC eastern region of Kivu.
The West African Ebola virus epidemic, dubbed the most widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease in history, has caused major loss of life and socio-economic disruption in the region, global phobia of citizens travelling from the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and in some cases, anyone from the African continent.
Numerous medical personnel from around the world, including two of my own relations, Dr. Dziwe Ntaba and Dr. Alison Mbekeani Breckon, converge in the West African countries to offer research and medical expertise.
In these countries, the rate among hospitalised patients was 57-59 percent, and the final numbers 28 616 people, including 11 310 deaths. Governments, non-government organisations and the international community, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations literally flooded the area. They set up quarantine areas, restricting the possibility of the virus spreading.
In mid-2014, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (Pheic) was declared that lasted to 29 March 2016, when the WHO terminated the Pheic status of the outbreak and by June 9 2016, the health scare was declared to be over. Ebola has 17 000 survivors reported with post-recovery symptoms called Post-Ebola syndrome who require long-term medical care.
The flyers circulating in Malawi, following a suspected Ebola case in Tanzania this past week, are alarming, distressing, and excruciatingly upsetting. These sentiments are being expressed because, despite the fears, rumours and whispers being voiced, there appears to be denial, castigations of alarmists; and the usual “no story here” attitude. Ebola is as much a threat to Malawi as it is to countries like Tanzania.
According to the flyer, issued by the Ministry of Health, Unicef and UKAid, Ebola is caused by a virus; it has no medicines that can cure the disease neither is there any vaccination to protect people from the disease. Once a person encounters the virus through another person stricken with the virus, they become very sick and usually die if they do not get medical help.
Ebola is highly contagious and can speedily infect many people. Those attacked by the virus become sickly and they emit blood through their skin. Other signs of Ebola are high fever, nausea, severe headache, feeling weak, vomiting blood, coughing, diarrhoea, blood emission through the skin, nose, mouth. Because Ebola spreads through mere contact with an infected person, it is easy for relations to contaminate each other in a household, and health workers.
Advisers from the Ministry of Health are also cautioning handlers of deceased persons. They warn against washing of dead bodies of persons suspected to have died of Ebola virus; do not touch or kiss the bodies.
Meanwhile, the ministry also advises Malawians to refrain from touching or eating wild animals; people are also to refrain from eating bats, and that if you have symptoms of Ebola seek medical help as soon as possible. The ministry also requests all Malawians to adhere to health officials’ advice and cautions.
Ebola is a very dangerous disease, but its spread can be stopped if all Malawians play their part in stopping its spread. This is how West Africans wiped out the epidemic: they heeded the advice of the medical authorities. Let us all play our part in keeping Malawi healthy by doing something to stop the spread of Ebola.