Ebola: The magic of discharging a cured patient

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 6: The magic of reaching cure

It is a magical occurrence when a cured patient is discharged. First they go through a decontamination area where their old clothes are removed and they wash themselves in a disinfectant. They are then given a new set of clothes and emerge from the isolation area clean and disease free. In a moment of unadulterated euphoria staff members abandon their work. There is singing and dancing and everyone joins in, welcoming the convalescent patient back into the world. Even the patients who remain behind will often clap hands from behind the orange fencing.

Discharged patients are given a copy of their laboratory results as well as a certificate stating that they are disease free. Still the stigmatisation they often face when returning to their villages is immense. There is a pervasive misunderstanding of the disease in many villages and also a deep mistrust of health structures. Our outreach teams are working hard to do contact tracing and mapping of the epidemic. They also focus strongly on health promotion and the dissemination of accurate information. However, we still know of sick patients being hidden in their villages, out of fear and stigma. We also know of unsafe burial practices continuing in many villages. Sadly, this utter lack of insight is not limited to West Africa.

Read Kruger’s fourth entry here.

Stefan Kruger 2 [MSF]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