1000 survivors: Harnessing Hope to End an Ebola Outbreak
On 4 October, the 1000th survivor of the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was released from care.
"Today we have 1000 reasons to celebrate, but for each survivor there are two lives lost. We must harness our joy and our grief to end this outbreak."
- Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Each survivor has a unique story of how they overcame the disease and the impact it has had on their lives. Here are some of their stories and what WHO and partners are doing to help them to lead healthy lives...
Survivor stories: Kanyere Vwatire
“I didn’t believe Ebola was real. In my life, I had never believed in the existence of the Ebola disease, in spite of everything that I was told about it. I felt devastated after my mother was killed by the Ebola virus disease but I refused to heed doctors’ advice that I should go to the Katwa Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) for screening, even though my father was hospitalized there.
The day when my illness got worse, I rushed to a private health centre known as Bon Berger. The doctor at this centre also urged me to go to the Katwa ETC, but I refused. I started vomiting blood, but I still refused to go to the ETC.
When I realized that they could refer me to the ETC at any time, I decided to run away. I removed the intravenous perfusion line and sought refuge with one of our neighbours, a police commanding officer. But from there I was made to go to the Katwa ETC during the night.
Dear parents and neighbours, you should know that Ebola does exist. It can be treated if one rushes to the ETC immediately after the early signs show up. I am standing before you as living proof!”
As Kanyere explains, some people in this part of DRC are suspicious of outsiders and are reluctant to seek care from Ebola Treatment Centres. The mistrust is a result of years of conflict in the area and a difficult political context.
Comment (NPW): It is so important that the experience of survivors like Kanyere is heard and understood by other community members. At the same time, we hear that survivors of Ebola are being stigmatised. What methods can be used to accelerate progress in public understanding of Ebola in DR Congo?
Best wishes, Neil
Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children
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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG firstname.lastname@example.org