10, 2015 -
Just when we thought we were on top of things, the
vicious and human tissue-devouring Ebola Virus Disease
shows another side - the tendency to remain in the body
as UK nurse Pauline Cafferkey is re-admitted in an
isolation ward. Condition stated to be very serious. Let
us pray for her and our people who recovered.
We are worried, very worried that the
Ebola Virus Disease has again told the world of health
specialists that it is an infection that is not that
easy to beat even if it fails to kill its victim. That
it is so difficult to get rid of - that if you do not
see it in the blood of the recovered, its long arms of
destruction is busy spreading out into other tissues and
organs to create difficulties for those who survived.
the BBC's story
that broke many hearts -
"A Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola
in Sierra Leone last year is in a "serious condition"
after being readmitted to an isolation unit in London.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that the virus
is still present in Pauline Cafferkey's body after being
left over from the original infection. She is not
thought to be contagious.
The 39-year-old has been flown back to
the isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Bodily tissues can harbour the Ebola infection months
after the person appears to have fully recovered.
Ms Cafferkey, from Cambuslang in South
Lanarkshire, spent almost a month in the unit at the
beginning of the year after contracting the virus in
December 2014. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC)
said she had been admitted to the Queen Elizabeth
University Hospital in Glasgow on Tuesday after feeling
unwell and was treated in its infectious diseases unit.
She was then transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in
the early hours of Friday morning due to an "unusual
late complication" in her illness.
Dr Emilia Crighton, NHSGGC director of
public health, said: "Pauline's condition is a
complication of a previous infection with the Ebola
virus. The risk to the public is very low. In line with
normal procedures in cases such as this, we have
identified a small number of close contacts of Pauline's
that we will be following up as a precaution."
Government sources have described her transfer to the
specialist unit as a "highly precautionary process".
Truth be told - although the good
nurse's recovery had been touted as one of the success
stories against the Ebola Virus Disease, she has always
made it clear in interviews that she did not just feel
right, though she could not pinpoint the source of her
worries but to any keen observer, it was quite obvious
that there was something with recovering from the
An example. This is what she's
reported to have said
when she was first declared free of the disease as she
was discharged from hospital -"“I am just happy to be
alive,” she said. “I still don’t feel 100 per cent, I
feel quite weak, but I’m looking forward to going home."
As we pray for the full return to
health of this brave nurse, we cannot help but remind
ourselves of the challenges that we face in own country
Sierra Leone and the fate of thousands who had survived
the ravages of the disease. We would again want to
remind health delivery personnel - nurses, doctors,
porters, drivers and the desk people at the Ministry of
Health and the Ebola Response setup of what needs to be
done to protect and care for
the survivors who
still remain abandoned and uncared for in Sierra Leone.
We would again like to remind the
international community that it needs to do more to help
Sierra Leone whose health delivery leaders including the
rat at State House see the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic
as another money-making machine whose product should
line the pockets of individual as was clearly exposed in
report by the Auditor General.
Despite these revelations no one was held to account
even though the report made it clear those who should be
made to account. The Anti Corruption Commissioner, one
Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara did nothing and left the matter
untouched preferring to chase the unconnected and the
poor. One beast of no nation, calling himself the
Majority Leader in Parliament, one RASS-in Bundu usurped
the powers of the Anti Corruption Commissioner quite
forgetting or ignoring the fact that he the RASS-in
Bundu was subjected to the provisions of the Anti
Corruption Act of 2008.
We had in the past warned against
using the Ebola recovered victims as a propaganda tool,
with recovered victims held in holding centres until the
rat can find the time to go and present them with
certificates that they have recovered from the disease.
We raised the issue again when a woman declared as the
last survivor had to wait until the birthday day of
Sierra Leone's greatest constitutional manipulator, one
Siaka Probyn Stevens' birthday to be presented with a
certificate by the rat.
Yes, Adama Sankoh had to wait until
24th August. Here's how
one source reported
the rather sickening and sordid-looking affair -
Sierra Leone released its last known Ebola patient, 35
year-old Adama Sankoh, on Monday 24 August 2015 from the
Mateneh Ebola Treatment Centre in Makeni, in the
northern Bombali District.
“This is the beginning of the end of
Ebola in Sierra Leone,” said President Ernest Bai Koroma
at the discharge ceremony, cautioning the crowd not to
be complacent but to continue being vigilant and focus
“as we have 42 more days to go,” the President added.
Giving the vote of thanks, Adama
called on all citizens to continue to observe health
measures of hand washing and safe burial. She said that
although she had lost a son, she is happy to be alive
today, to be part of the many others who had survived
the disease. She appealed to the president to continue
to support survivors as “we have no idea on how to start
life again,” she said.
Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, the Minister of
Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, whose
ministry is responsible for providing and coordinating
support to survivors from government and donors, handed
over the discharge pack to Adama. It contained matrasses,
household utensils and a purse of Le300, 000 ($55). The
discharge and certification ceremony was attended by
cabinet ministers, senior government officials,
development partners, traditional leaders, journalists
and stakeholders of the Bombali and Tonkolili
The plight of recovered Ebola Virus
should send alarm bells down the corridors of the
Ministry of Health in Freetown. That there's the need to
monitor and support all those who have recovered from
the disease and are living in Sierra Leone. It is now
quite evident that much remains to be known about the
after effects of this vicious disease - that when it
fails to snuff out the life of victims, it still leaves
them with debilitating conditions as
the virus continues to invade
and hide in other tissues and organs after migrating
from the blood.
Let us again remind you of what the
rat is reported to have promised survivors in this piece
from the State House website (excerpts) headlined
Ebola Clocks 1 Year…President Pledges To Support Survivors
- "While expressing gratitude to Ebola survivors for their resilience, President
Koroma also commended the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s
Affairs for what he referred to as proactiveness in planning programmes for
Prior to the Ebola outbreak, President Koroma
said his government had meant well for the country when
it introduced the free health care initiative. He
reminded that whosoever holds a certificate of Ebola
survival will equally benefit from the free health care
services and will be treated with whatever illness he or
she may suffer from gratis.
Yusufu Kabba of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors described the
meeting with President Koroma as a special moment. He said they are receiving
support from government through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and
He thanked government for providing free medical support to survivors, and
expressed delight for livelihood support as they are always engaging their
colleagues on abstinence as everybody wants to say goodbye to Ebola in Sierra
Amongst them was Sierra Leone's first Ebola survivor Victoria Yillia who was
declared Ebola free in June last year."
The question is - how much support are
these survivors receiving in Sierra Leone? We are not
only talking about Freetown and the main towns, but we
are thinking o
Concerned journalists have been
raising warning flags over what they see as the neglect
of those who had survived the disease. Journalists who
raised these expressions of concern were routinely
labelled as unpatriotic by a system that believes that
criticisms can only come from those considered as
anti-government and anti-the rat.
That Pauline Cafferkey could succumb
to the aftermath of being declared free of the disease
should make us worried, very worried and for us to ask
the Ministry of Health and indeed international partners
that we need to set up units all over the country that
would observe and take the right measures against the
many medical complaints/problems associated with being
declared clear of the disease.
A recent study
carried out on the needs of Ebola Virus Disease
survivors in Sierra Leone showed that health authorities
needed to do more.
"Common themes that emerged were immediate and long-term concerns about physical
and mental health, stigma, psychosocial issues, reintegration needs, and
Survivors reported health problems; the most common symptoms
reported were blurred or partial loss of vision, dizziness, headache,
sleeplessness, and myalgia.
Survivors who reported physical health issues after
recovery expressed interest in receiving medical attention specific to reported
post-Ebola health issues. Survivors also raised concerns regarding psychosocial
issues (e.g., stigma and shame that prevents reintegration into their community,
as well as survivor guilt) and financial burden.
Many Ebola survivors had most
of their belongings burnt or taken away as part of infection control, including
their clothing and household goods.
Many reported being shunned by the community
and had difficulty accessing shops to purchase replacement goods.
emphasized the critical need for comprehensive discharge counseling and the
provision of a packet of materials, including clothing and cash for
transportation, as well as facilitation of reentry into the community by
professional psychosocial support counselors.
Survivors showed great interest in contributing to the Ebola response through
activities like sharing their stories directly with their community, with Ebola
patients currently receiving care, or with a larger audience through radio and
other broadcast media.
They also expressed interest in participating in Ebola
care and treatment support and direct care, and providing moral support to other
Ebola patients to give them hope.
Many indicated that supporting themselves with
this work would help restore their own dignity.
Upon completion of the assessment, findings were shared with select
district-level Emergency Operations Center staff and partners involved in the
response to improve and coordinate the survivor services.
To address commonly
reported sequelae of Ebola, the nongovernmental organization Sight Savers
(http://www.sightsavers.org) is piloting the provision of free eye examinations
and treatment for survivors with vision problems in
select districts. The services will be rolled out
nationally in the coming months.
The Sierra Leone Ebola Emergency
Operations Psychosocial Consortium also is coordinating
partners and districts to improve the initial and
ongoing psychosocial support for survivors...a
comprehensive survivor packet has been designed to ensure the consistent
provision of resources to survivors upon discharge. The packet includes a
mattress, bed sheets, a blanket, a towel, a pillow, a water bucket, a cell
phone, utensils, a cooking pot, laundry soap, bar soap, a toothbrush and
toothpaste, a mosquito net, a set of clean clothes and under garments, plastic
sandals, food, cash, condoms, and multivitamins."
Is anyone listening?