Ebola survivors in Congo form coalition against the disease
London, Jan. 24, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Dozens of Congolese Ebola survivors have teamed up as army of volunteers to dispelling rumors and care for patients and lone children in the world’s second deadliest outbreak, health workers said on Thursday.
The virus is spreading fast in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with 713 confirmed and probable cases and 439 deaths. It is surpassed only by the 2014 to 2016 outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which more than 11,000 people died.
Nearly 250 patients in Congo have recovered since the outbreak began in July. Research has shown the disease gives survivors immunity.
“I like this work very much,” said Lydie Besolo, an 18-year-old in the town of Beni who survived Ebola and now spends her afternoons after school working as a nurse in a health center run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
“I tell (the patients) my story. It helps them,” she said, adding that she hopes to be a doctor someday.
Health workers say one of the biggest challenges in this outbreak has been dispelling rumors about the disease. Suspicious of foreign intervention and political plots, locals have attacked volunteers and refused vaccines.
The charity said that about 20 survivors work in its center in Beni, mostly looking after patients.
Twelve survivors work in a nursery for children who have been separated from their parents, said the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), while up to 40 survivors are part of community engagement efforts run by the Red Cross.
“Ebola survivors are a critical entry point to build trust in the community,” said Jamie LeSueur, head of operations for the Ebola response for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“Having someone go through this horrible experience and come out alive shows people that they can survive the disease and that we are there to support communities, not harm them,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. ( CGTN)