Since the Ebola outbreak and its subsequent spread, one of the preventive messages to the public has been “Avoiding people” who come down with, or are suspected of the virus.
However, this prevention, instead of doing good, is observed to be doing more harm, as many have reportedly died not necessarily from Ebola, but from other treatable illnesses as a result of abandonment and neglect.
It is against this backdrop that the Independent Baptist, in its approach to the fight, is urging people not to neglect relatives and families who come down with the virus or are so suspected; but they should use protective materials to care for the affected person until he/she can reach a health facility.
At an awareness program in Harbel, Lower Margibi County yesterday, health worker Josephine Freeman quizzed the participants whether it was a good thing to neglect a person suspected of Ebola or another disease. The responses concluded that such act worsens the person’s traumatic condition.
“A sick person should not be avoided, but he/she should be touched and attended to with care, using your long sleeve shirt or jacket, long trousers, with sneakers or boots, and black plastics on the hands,” Mrs. Freeman emphasized.
She said as a result of the message of avoidance of suspected or confirmed persons with Ebola, families neglected their relatives to die and children have become orphans.
She, however, stressed that while it is a good thing to care for an affected person, there are three messages an individual should take along, “Protect yourself, your family and community.”
Laying stress on protection, Mrs. Freeman said it was not about developing foolish thought to disregard preventive messages to touch an Ebola patient with the bare hands, as some who reportedly did have died as a result.
She said the ethics of faith in Christianity does not mean you should tempt your God by foolishly disobeying rules because you think that a miracle can take place.
For Mrs. Roseline Vaye, who sensitized participants on hand washing solution, she said sympathy was the cause of others contracting the disease because despite the warning and message of avoidance, people could not neglect their people in such a time and therefore had to identify with them one way or the other.
The awareness on the psychosocial effect of avoidance in the Robertsfield Baptist Church was also characterized by food distribution among most vulnerable people affected by the virus.
Items distributed included rice, oil, fish cups, detergent, buckets and salt.
The Firestone region in Margibi County was in recent times hit by Ebola, and scores of lives were claimed as a result.
The Secretary of the Independent Baptist Ebola Response Unit and head pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, Rev. G. Larque Vaye, told the Daily Observer in an interview that the food component came when they lobbied with partners in the United States and the partners sent some money to help the most needy people in the Baptist Churches.
He said the bottom line was not food distribution, but awareness about the danger of Ebola. The materials and food aspects are not as important as the awareness building. The food is just to help those who are vulnerable and most in need.
The chairman of the Independent Baptist Ebola Response Unit, Rev. Tuagar E. Whiengar, also told this newspaper that the intervention came when they saw the need that many vulnerable people were in the church and could be affected by the virus.