Madam Florence Baingana, a World Health Organization (WHO) representative from Uganda currently in the country, has called on Liberians to embrace Ebola survivors in their communities.
Madam Baingana made the call last Wednesday during a two-day workshop organized by Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation (KtK) with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) and facilitated by the World Health Organization as well as the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare
The workshop brought together stakeholders, KtK implementing partners, “Ten Women Groups” as well as Ebola survivors from Montserrado, Lofa and Maryland counties.
Community dwellers and house owners should embrace survivors who have been fortunate to return from the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) and stop frustrating them with stigmatization, she said.
The WHO representative, who spoke on the impact of EVD stigma in the community and means of addressing it, expressed fear that stigmatizing Ebola survivors would expose them and discourage others affected to voluntarily report themselves for treatment to any ETU or nearby health center. They would fear being singled out or isolated by their own community and friends.
She noted that all Ebola survivors have horrible experiences and that it was necessary to assemble them to explain their stories to one another as a way of removing the stress they have encountered.
Madam Baigana said some of the Ebola survivors who talked to her indicated that most Liberians are refusing Ebola survivor tenants for fear that they (owners) and their families might contract the disease.
She also told the participants that the Ebola cases are reducing but Liberians need to keep washing their hands and observing other health measures.
“Please keep washing your hands and stop bathing dead bodies,” Madam Baigana cautioned the participants.
In her opening statement earlier, Madam Rie Lukowski, Field Representative of KtK Liberia, said her organization is providing assistance to Ebola survivors and stakeholders as well as women’s groups by giving them support in the prevention and control of Ebola.
Madam Lukowski told the participants that they should avoid finger pointing against one another and be role models in society.
False Alarm, Election Overtake
Also speaking, the Deputy Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, Asatu Bah–Kenneth, who shared her experience at the workshop, observed that many people are giving false alarms to the various call centers and when the response teams arrive there are no cases.
She then used the occasion to call on all Liberians to desist from such behavior and help kick Ebola out of Liberia.
One participant sharing her experience said that election had taken the front seat and displaced Ebola. “Our Lawmakers know very well that “we have sickness in the country, and pushing for holding the Senatorial election spells danger,” she said.
Isolate Male Ebola Survivors
Majority of the participants disclosed that the male Ebola survivors who are coming from the centers need to be kept somehow in isolation for about three months, because some of them are forcing their wives to have sex with them.
“And when that happens, you will notice that the virus will spread more. So we need a place for our men to be for three months,” they suggested.
Woman to Woman
Kvinna till Kvinna, which literally means “Woman to Woman,” cooperates with women’s organizations working for women’s rights and peace.
According to its dossier, Kvinna till Kvinna, supports more than 130 women’s organizations in five regions afflicted by conflict: Central and Western Africa, the Middle East, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans.
KtK provides information about the situation facing women in conflict zones and the important work for peace that women’s organizations carry out. It also does advocacy work in Sweden and internationally to try to increase women’s representation in peace processes. Through contract teaching initiatives such as the ITP programme, KtK uses its expertise to spread knowledge about women, peace and security.
Kvinna till Kvinna has a feminist perspective. This means that it strives for a society where women and men have the same social, political and economic rights. Its aim is to help strengthen the position of women so that women and men may be part of shaping their societies to the same extent and on equal terms. In KtK’s view, gender bias and inequality in power structures are the main underlying causes of social inequalities, and they are consequently an obstacle to democracy, development and peace.