The devastating effects of the virus that left 11,300 dead and 28,300 infected are still being felt in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and its neighboring countries. Having suffered extraordinary turmoil, illness and loss of life since the first Ebola outbreak in December 2013, the countries, while on the mend, are struggling with the after effects of unemployment, poverty and corruption. ALISON learners Augustus Flomo from Liberia and Eugene Nartey from Ghana tell ALISON how their countries are now coping with the aftermath of Ebola.
Ghana – The Knock-on Effect of Ebola
After undertaking the ALISON Understanding the Ebola Virus Course, Eugene Natey from Ghana began providing information about Ebola on social media. While there were no reports of Ebola in Ghana, the country felt the effects of the virus economically and socially. “Gloomy and hectic” is how Eugene Nartey describes life in Ghana at the moment, with businesses collapsing and unemployment growing. The high cost of living and doing business, erratic power supply, poverty and large public debt mean that spirits are at an all time low. “Life in Ghana can best be described as difficult and challenging: one filled with hopelessness, despondency, increasing levels of poverty, corruption (especially state institutions), lack of effective and efficient support systems and opportunities for the poor and needy,” says Eugene, who is one of the many unemployed graduates in the country.
He says that Ebola is “under control”, with measures being taken to stem a further outbreak. “Some of these measures include the setting up of Ebola response centers in major regional hospitals in the country, the procurement of PPIs, the creation of an Ebola vaccine, which is now undergoing clinical trials and so on.”
Following widespread public education regarding Ebola and preventative measures that can be taken to avoid infection, Ghanaians’ fears have been allayed. “Everyone in this country was panicked. However, after intense public education and outreach programmes, both online and offline, on TV and radio stations and by state institutions in the health sector and civil society organizations, with the help of development partners, things are now back to normal as far as the Ebola outbreak is concerned. Indeed, knowledge is power.”
“I now feel much more confident that my people are prepared enough to handle any Ebola outbreak should it appear in Ghana. In effect, the Ebola outbreak in our neighboring countries has taught people valuable lessons like personal hygiene, disaster management preparedness and the need to invest more in health research and continuous professional development for health workers,” he adds.
Liberia – Life After Ebola
ALISON Learner Augustus Jonathan Flomo from Liberia says that while the people of his country are struggling to recover from the effects of Ebola, there is a sense of relief at being in a position to get back to normal life.
“You can imagine what it’s like for people to live continuously in fear of their lives – no visiting family or friends, being cut off from traditional practices such as burial ceremonies of loved ones.” During the Ebola outbreak, children were kept home from school, any gatherings were deemed unsafe. “Now, we feel a sense of slow recovery, with people working very hard to get back their lives”.
While the country has been declared Ebola-free twice, in recent months, its inhabitants are still cautious, but are now in a much better position through education to feel confident about prevention. “We just heard that a 10-year-old boy has been infected and up to present, we do not know the source of the infection.”
Reminiscent of the re-building of the country following 2003’s civil war, progress is slow, but determined. “Economic revitalization is now the language everywhere. Rebuilding the education system that was closed for over seven months, businesses trying to raise capital, obtaining health services in a timely manner, a lack of jobs – all of these are still challenges that the population and partners are trying to overcome.”
However, while responses were slow to the outbreak, Augustus says people are now confident that with the steps being taken to prevent a re emergence of the virus, the country is on the mend.