While Guinea is working on the outbreak of a new Evola hemorrhagic fever, community resistance to the measures needed to control the deadly virus remains dangerously high, Red Cross executives warn. Did.
Guinea confirmed that the illness returned in mid-February, following the first death of the previous month.
West African countries and international officials responded swiftly to stop the spread, isolate and treat the incident, track contacts and launch vaccination campaigns.
However, Emanuele Capobianco, director of health at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said the reluctance to take action within the community was an obstacle.
“What we see in the field is considerable community and religious resistance,” he told AFP in an interview on Friday.
This is not surprising, he pointed out, “Ebola is a scaring disease. It’s a dramatic disease that kills many people.”
Ebola is transmitted by close contact with body fluids, causing severe fever and, in the worst case, unstoppable bleeding.
According to World Health Organization data, mortality is high, with an average of about 50% of infected people and up to 90% in some epidemics.
“A lot of trauma”
Guinea recorded a new case of Ebola on February 13 near the town of Gouécké in southeastern Nzerékoré, shortly after proclaiming an epidemic.
According to WHO, 18 cases have been reported so far, 14 of which have been confirmed to have Ebola, and 4 of them have died.
These show that the first cases of Evola hemorrhagic fever have surfaced in West Africa since the catastrophic epidemic of 2013-2016, which killed more than 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“There is, of course, a lot of anxiety about the recurrence of this disease,” Capo Bianco said.
“We have a lot of trauma,” he said, adding that in some cases this “actually manifests itself in some resistance.”
In the last epidemic, the entire West African community, especially the Guinean community, rebelled when outsiders in hazmat suits first arrived to stop the spread.
In 2014, eight members of the outreach team in the southeastern town of Womey, just 50 kilometers from the current epicenter of Nzerékoré, were killed by protesters.
Resistance caused a change in response, and further efforts were made to involve the community and seek help from traditional and religious leaders in explaining the illness and the need for action taken.
“Safe and dignified” burial
The IFRC, which is deeply involved in many aspects of the response, has helped develop an approach to bury people who may safely carry Ebola, while respecting tradition as much as possible.
People infected with Ebola are most susceptible to transmission shortly after death, and traditional funerals, including washing, touching, and kissing corpses, are dangerous.
For example, the current outbreak in Guinea began when several people were infected at the funeral of a 51-year-old nurse, the first known case.
However, Capo Bianco said the IFRC is facing resistance when trying to perform the so-called safe and dignified burial of those who died in areas where Ebola is endemic.
“We couldn’t always do it because the community simply refused to do the burial by the Red Cross team,” he said, “having a significant impact in reducing transmission.” Added.
While this was a concern, Capo Bianco emphasized that resistance was a “solvable problem.”
“It can be resolved by listening to the community, looking back on their fears, explaining what the disease is, and showing that people are not actually sentenced to death for having Ebola. “He said.
People fighting Ebola in Guinea today had tools that weren’t available in the last epidemic, such as vaccines and treatments that reduce case fatality, he said.
To date, more than 1,600 people have been vaccinated, including case contacts, contacts and healthcare professionals, according to WHO.
Capo Bianco said the first IFRC healthcare worker received the jab on Friday.
“This time around, we have a very powerful tool that we can deploy,” he said.
“As long as we can win the community and make sure they are part of the response, we should be able to put this under control.”
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Quote: Guinea’s resistance to Ebola remains high: The Red Cross (March 6, 2021), https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03-resistance-guinea-ebola-response-high.html to 2021 Obtained on March 6th
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