WEST AFRICA – Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are among the poorest countries in Africa and have been struggling with Ebola for years. West Africa has been under strenuous conditions in which economic, political, educational and medical opportunities are scarce. Ebola is lethal, and since it has mostly been eradicated in Liberia, conditions in the country have improved. This is thanks to five vital tactics used by West Africans and foreign governments.
1. Get to Know Ebola
Understand what happens when the disease strikes. Ebola symptoms begin within 2 to 21 days after infection. It copies the symptoms of malaria and the flu. Some of these symptoms include nausea, headache, sleepiness, vomiting, diarrhea and coughing. It also comes with a high fever. Once these symptoms have been recognized, the sick person should report to a health facility immediately.
The best cure is prevention. Washing hands regularly will help prevent Ebola, as well as not eating or having direct contact with raw food. There should be no contact with the infected and the deceased. Burials need to be cautiously performed.
2. Get a Diagnosis Fast from a Lab or Health Services
Getting a diagnosis quickly will prevent the disease from spreading. After diagnosis, patients are put in isolation for treatment as to protect healthy citizens.
Ebola spreads when health services are not properly funded, staffed or equipped. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ensures that staff is provided protective equipment such as suits, gloves and masks. The European Union (EU) has helped to restore hospital units in the Ivory Coast and provide water and sanitation programs with hygiene suggestions in Guinea Bissau.
Early detection is the key to survival. The EU has responded to the Ebola crisis by sending European Mobile Laboratories. One lab is located in Guinea and two are in Sierra Leone. The lab located in Guinea provides a diagnosis of Ebola within four hours. It processes 70 samples daily.
3. Get Armed with a Mobile Device
USAID is teaching social mobile habits to citizens of West Africa. Media tools such as WhatsApp and SMS-based U-Report are used to inform and educate citizens with casual or emergency questions about Ebola. Users of mobile devices have increased from 4% to 60% in the last ten years.
As a result of cellphone usage, there is a rapid response to potentially infected people. Emergency Ebola centers take 10 thousand calls per day. Dispatchers are informed by a hotline, and they proceed to isolate those who are sick. Thousands of healthcare staffers can have simultaneous conversations with the national health ministry using SMS texting with an innovation called mHero.
Training and equipment can more easily be provided to the cause. The United States funds a smartphone application called Sense that records the location of any person who came into contact with an Ebola patient so as to keep track of possible sources.
4. Get In Touch with Your Neighbors
There are 28 countries in Africa that are worse off than Liberia when it comes to health. Liberia only has 51 doctors. There is a $101 billion annual gap in health spending. Local governments can help by improving the tax system, supplying funds to health services and reducing proscribed financial practices. The 2012 gap for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea was $1.58 billion.
Mobile devices are being used to organize groups to inform the ever-less fortunate. Users educate themselves, organize into groups and educate others who are not informed about Ebola.
5). Get Optimistic
Internationally, about $4.3 billion was spent fighting Ebola. USAID, with $1.4 billion, reinstituted lost services to West Africa such as vaccinations, sanitation, water, general healthcare and healthcare to women. The EU contributed over $1.3 billion to fund emergency responses and long term support. The countries could not survive without the help of international partners against poverty.
Knowing the implications of Ebola helps combat high death rates. When West Africans are armed with education, devices, strong unity and consistent international support, resilience and national healthcare thrive.
– Katie Groe
Sources: Impatient Optimist, European Commission, U-Report, USAID, USAID
Photo: The Blaze