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The world’s biggest Ebola ward … in a ghost town

The Daily Vox is running a series of blogs written by DR STEFAN KRUGER, who is in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to help combat the spread of Ebola in the region.

Entry 2:  The eye of the storm

Kailahun is currently in the eye of the Ebola storm. This sedate village with jungle-covered hills and dirt roads has until recently been bustling. Now it has largely been abandoned out of fear and panic. On the outskirts of the village lies the biggest Ebola case management centre in the history of MSF, and indeed the world. It is manned by more than 200 local staff members and a group of almost twenty  fieldworkers assembled from around the world. The 56 bed centre has only been open for a month and there is already machinery in motion to expand it. It is the only centre in the greater Kailahun district which is able to admit patients with suspected Ebola.

Stefan Kruger MSFOn arrival I meet the emergency coordinator for my field briefing. “Don’t be afraid of the virus,” she says, “but always respect it. Always respect it.”

Then we are off to work and the first order of business is hands-on training in personal protective equipment (PPE). This entails rubber boots, yellow plastic suits, hoods, masks and goggles – the end product of which is a person covered from head to toe with not a single area of skin exposed anywhere. It may sound like this would cause one to become quite hot – it doesn’t, it makes you boil.

Of course it is necessary, it allows your entire outfit to be sprayed down with a chlorine solution when you exit the isolation area. The undressing of PPE is the most critical step. In fact, there is a person dedicated to spraying and assisting (without touching) the undressing. He or she will make sure that we all remove PPE methodically and correctly so that no self-contamination occurs.

 

Read Kruger’s first entry here.

Doctors without Borders (MSF) is currently working in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to combat the spread of Ebola across the region. To support this work, go to http://msf.org.za/donate or SMS “JOIN” to 42110 to donate R30. To receive direct updates about Ebola from Doctors without Borders (MSF) SA, e-mail your name to updates@msf.org.za with the subject line “Ebola”.

– Featured image via Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos/MSF

2 Comments
  1. […] Read Kruger’s second entry here. […]

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