The Network of Ebola Survivors is calling on the government of Liberia, local and international partners in the fight against the deadly virus to support and empower survivors and the network at large.
Speaking recently at the Information Ministry’s regular Ebola Hour press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, the chairman of the Network, Karlia Bonarwolo, who is also a Physician Assistant, said the organization has over 100 members but they are enduring hardship due to lack of support for their upkeep and to restart their lives.
According to the chairman, the survivors were not receiving anything from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and partners after being released from the ETU. There is hardly any monitoring of the survivors and counseling by social counsel teams and the mental health people.
“Our belongings were destroyed during the disinfection of our homes; and no special packages exist for us that will help us recover these and other losses,” he said.
“We are taken back without any hope of how to begin life anew; and this is very difficult for us. We need the support of the government and all partners,” he pleaded.
He contracted the deadly Ebola virus in June at the John F. Kennedy Hospital, where he worked as a physician assistant (PA).
Chairman Bonarwolo said he was working with a colleague who came down with the virus and later died. After 10-days, Bonarwolo said he began to come down with the various symptoms of the virus. He was taken to the 24th Street Ebola Treatment Unit.
“This started with a severe pain, headache, weakness and also loss of appetite. I first started by taking some treatment at the hospital and at home. I spent three days and there was no improvement at home so I had to call for an ambulance,” he narrated.
“I was identified as a probable case, having been in contact with someone who died from the virus. The health team was quickly notified, but there was a serious delay in the process at the ETU. I was taken into the unit on 28 June, when some of the late signs and symptoms started to show. By the grace of God, I got released on 16 July,” Chairman Bonarwolo explained.
Continuing his narrative, Bonarwolo said that “after he appeared at the ETU, he started passing two liters of watery stool and more than a liter of vomit and the frequency was very high. The situation was bad, with no drugs; I had to order drugs for family members to bring to me.”
He explained that, “health workers would bring drugs and then inform me that after this, I had to hang the other bag by myself. But sometimes I had no strength to even stand up. So, it was a serious challenge for a lot of patients at the ETU and the death rate continued to increase rapidly. A patient had to gather strength if he or she wanted to survived,” he said.
He explained that the issues of food and care for Ebola patients by health workers was inadequate, to which he attributed the high death rate, adding that “No medication time, no food for patients, putting patients’ food a distance from them causing them to crawl to reach the food, and so many other issues posed a serious challenge to their survival.”
He said, he considered the John F. Kennedy Medical Center ETU at that time as the worst place to survive as Ebola patients due to so many other disadvantages, including mosquitoes, exposure to rain and other hardships.