Mali and Guinea: Responding to the Ebola crisis

 

Buckets, soap and other hygiene materials which go into Ebola Prevention Kits for distribution in schools
Buckets, soap and other hygiene materials that go into Ebola kits for distribution in schools

Ebola has been spreading through West Africa since early February.

The first cases emerged in Guinea and the virus is still strongest there. 90% of cases are fatal and there is no known cure: this is a crisis.

Prevention kits

We are working to release funds as fast as possible, so that we can provide prevention kits in schools. Ebola spreads through bodily fluids or through the environments contaminated through such fluids: the kits are designed to limit this dangerous contact.

They contain simple things: glasses so that the children don’t have to share, and soap and other hygiene products so that they can stay clean. There is no known cure for Ebola, but we can limit the spread of the disease as much as possible.

Protecting staff from this dreadful virus

We  stay in regular contact with our colleagues in Guinea to ensure that they are well and are making progress in responding to this deadly outbreak. Here in the Mali capital Bamako, meanwhile, we remind staff to wash their hands using the disinfectant we have provided, and not to shake hands, share cups of tea, or eat from the same plate.

These may seem like small things but they are crucial if we are to prevent infection and save lives.

It is a difficult situation, and it has made me see infection everywhere: each mosquito bite could be malaria; when I bathe in the river I worry about the bilharzia parasite. Last month I did get parasites in my stomach, but with medication from the doctor I am happy to say I have recovered.

It’s great to feel like I’m helping

Yet despite all this I wake up excited in the morning and I leave for work smiling. Even with the horror of this epidemic and the fear of catching such a lethal disease, I am doing what I am passionate about and what I have always wanted to do. Living here makes me think of the ephemeral nature of life and helps me to be happy in the moment. And of course, it is great to feel that, in extremely difficult circumstances, I am helping.

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