Ministers discuss Ebola in West Africa as patients flee
Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 01:23
West African health ministers meet to discuss response to the deadliest ever Ebola epidemic as doctors in Sierra Leone say infected patients are fleeing. Natalie Thomas reports.
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West African health ministers gather in the Ghanaian capital to discuss how to deal with an outbreak of Ebola.
It's a highly contagious, deadly disease that can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects.
It is transmitted through contact with the blood or other fluids of infected people or animals.
Liberia's health minister Bernice Dahn said fear and a lack of understanding of the disease was making it hard to contain.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) LIBERIAN HEALTH MINISTER, BERNICE DAHN, SAYING:
"Our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic. Our people are very much afraid of the disease."
In eastern Sierra Leone, health workers at a local hospital in Kenema suit up in protective gear to treat patients.
This is the front line in the fight against the virus.
But two entire wards now lie empty after non-Ebola patients fled, fearful they would catch the disease.
Some of those who suspect they have the illness have fled as well, increasing the risk of transmission.
(SOUNDBITE) (Krio) EBOLA SURVIVOR, ISATA MOMOH, SAYING:
"When I thought I had the sickness I ran away into the bushes and hid. I thought that the disease was coming after me. I was treating myself. I heard that a lot of people who come down with Ebola die. So when the ambulance came for me, I would hide. I ran away."
Momoh was one of the lucky ones, after returning to the hospital and receiving treatment she recovered.
The World Health Organisation has said that the outbreak has killed over 400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, making it the largest and deadliest ever.
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