Ebola centers lack capacity

Despite the government's inability to handle the situation in the affected countries, people's attitudes to Ebola centers have changed. At first , no one wanted to go there, because many inmates died and even medical staff became infected. Later when people saw that patients actually were cured and sent home well, they began to voluntarily go to the centers. To a point where there no longer is room for all the patients.

– Quite often , people get sent home because of lack of space and to transport a sick Ebola-patient is extremely serious for the spread of infection , says NAI researcher Mats Utas , with many years’ experience from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The changed attitudes towards Ebola centers don’t necessarily mean that people’s confidence in their governments have changed to the better. With quarantine zones guarded by military and airlines suspending their flights , the Ebola epidemic makes people in Liberia and Sierra Leone feel trapped and shut off from the outside world. Still, the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone want to show that they are in control and able to deal with the situation.

– In Freetown , the authorities have decided on a three-day lock-down when everyone must stay at home while the medical staff going around and knocking on doors to discover more infected. An impressing effort and huge project in a city with over one million inhabitants , says NAI researcher Mats Utas .

The government of Liberia also tried to show its ability to act with the shut d own of West Point, the poorest slum in the capital Monrovia. For a few days armed troops guarded that no one entered or left the premises.

– The government had to end the isolation soon . In an area of ​​60 000 to 80,000 residents living in poverty and extremely poor sanitary conditions the confinement only worsened the situation. The shutdown also increased the people’s distrust of authorities , says Mats Utas .

Most people who work with Ebola are volunteers with very low wages. They rarely have any medical training , or adequate equipment. It is a high-risk mission , and many die .

– The affected countries need support from the international community, including better equipment for those who care for Ebola victims but also ordinary medical equipment and medicine. More vehicles are needed to retrieve Ebola patients and as the number of infected is increasing also temporary hospitals are required , says Mats Utas .

Read several articles on the Ebola epidemic at Mats Utas’ blog.


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