West Africa- Lack of government outreach and denial of the disease kindle the Ebola fire
Denial regarding Ebola has been an overarching reality in many West African nations. In March and April many governments refused to admit that there were Ebola cases in their villages, asserting to the international community that there was no chance of an Ebola outbreak, no looming epidemic to contend with. Governments misstepped again by failing to alert the public to the presence of the deadly virus within their respective countries. This issue was further compounded by the general lack of knowledge of how the virus is spread, and without dissemination of information regarding proper health precautions on how to avoid becoming infected, many West Africans are in denial that Ebola is actually an issue at their doorstep, or are fearful of the disease they don’t understand. Regardless of which side West Africans find themselves on, their governments should be faulted for the limited resources, information, and awareness provided to combat the rapidly spreading virus.
Ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluids including, sweat, blood, urine, vomit, and mucus. Understanding this is key, yet very few West Africans are aware of this. As a result, ritual burials that often include extensive contact with the dead body still continue, despite the fact that such contact with a body infected with Ebola could be lethal. As one news report mentioned, many people waver between fear and denial, exemplified by a girl in Liberia yelling at her friend not to touch her because “Ebola in town.” Her friend responded that Ebola isn’t real, the government planted this seed of fear. Others are certain that West African governments are only using Ebola to get aid from nations like the United States, and that it is not an actual issue. Ultimately, denial and fear are spurring on Ebola, and lack of government outreach and uniformed people, are supporting the epidemic’s survival.
It wasn’t until several days ago that one country, Guinea, decided to shut its borders in an effort to keep Ebola at bay. But with West Africa’s porous borders and largely weak governments, it is unlikely that this measure will ultimately have much effect. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of West African governments failing their people by not disseminating information regarding the disease, and denying the Ebola crisis, steps, such as closing borders, may be a turning point for the epidemic. But have these precautions come too late?
For more information, please visit:
All Africa- Guinea Shuts Boarders in Bid to Halt Ebola Spread- 9 Aug, 2014
All Africa- Nigeria: Ebola- Many Nigerians Still Ignorant of Disease- 8 Aug, 2014
All Africa- Liberia: You Ain’t Know Ebola In Town?- 9 Jul, 2014