Posts

ebola in sierra leone
The Ebola outbreak spreading across Africa has become increasingly fatal over the past couple of months. The incubation period for Ebola ranges from two days to 21 days, and when not treated early on, has about a 90 percent fatality rate.

According to WHO, 630 people total in the West African countries of Sierra Leone (442 people infected, 206 deaths), Guinea (410 people infected, 310 deaths) and Liberia (196 people infected, 116 deaths) lost their lives to Ebola. One of the most recent victims of the disease includes one of the leading doctors in Sierra Leone, Sheik Umar Khan, who contracted the virus while attempting to help treat others afflicted by Ebola.

Psychologist Ane Bjoru, who has begun work in Sierra Leone, however, explains the impact of Ebola beyond purely the physical effects of the virus. In her article in The Guardian, she explains that as a non-medical staff member, a large part of her job is helping hygienists, who have to deal with disposing of the dead bodies, deal with this “new and disturbing experience” and much of her work “involves helping them with counseling and support.”

Ane Bjoru explains that to treat Ebola in Sierra Leone the hygienists are responsible for cleaning the blood and stool produced by the patients, and are confronted with a confusing mix of emotions when dealing with the dead bodies. They are filled with sadness from the loss, fear from the contagious bodies, and especially in Sierra Leone where the dead are usually dealt with by the elders of the society, some of the hygienists feel they are too young to be involved with this part of the life cycle.

Ane Bjoru, through her work, seeks to build a wider community of people to help citizens of Sierra Leone deal with the emotional consequences of the Ebola outbreak.

— Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: World Health Organization, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, BBC News
Photo: The Guardian