Guinea Gouek – The Guinean authorities were racing against time last week to limit the spread of the Ebola epidemic after several deadly diseases were detected in the country’s far south.
West African countries announced the Ebola outbreak on February 14. Two weeks later, the patient attended the funeral of a nurse in Gouecke, and subsequently developed symptoms of the disease, including fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
Among the confirmed and suspected cases-the nurse, five of her family members and a traditional healer she consulted-five people have died and two are currently being treated in isolation.
Despite the ban on gatherings of more than five people, including weddings and weekly markets, people in Gouecke still expressed doubts about the government’s instructions and the revival of the disease, which swept through the period from 201
“We are not afraid, and we are not worried,” said Paul Lamah, a resident who opposed the ban and voted at the weekly market in Gouecke on Saturday.
“We know that God is with us. If the authorities want to deceive people to get their partners’ money [aid organisations], They shouldn’t say that. But as far as we are concerned, there is no Ebola virus. “
Fatoumata Diabate, a red oil seller from N’Zerekore, echoed his views, saying that the containment measures announced by the government pose a threat to people who are already struggling to survive.
“Our husband finished his studies but didn’t find any jobs. We are responsible for the family, which is why we come to sell products and look for edible things,” Diabet said in the market.
“We must stop bothering ourselves with the story of the Ebola epidemic. Besides, we don’t believe in this disease. These are just rumors, because we have never seen a patient or person who died from this disease.”
Community involvement is “important”
In this context, the Guinean authorities cooperated with international experts to try to establish a full-scale outbreak.
These efforts include tracing people who may be in contact with Ebola virus patients to monitor their health and stop the chain of transmission. Security forces have also set up checkpoints to heat up and isolate people who are sick.
Neighboring countries are also highly vigilant to avoid repeating previous epidemics, which caused more than 11,300 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The Sierra Leone authorities have deployed staff at the border with Guinea to assist border patrols and health workers, while Liberia has increased its threat level and “increased surveillance and prevention activities.”
Another outbreak of the Ebola virus could paralyze the already strained medical system in the region while fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Health experts emphasize that delivering good and clear health education messages is the key to the start of the Ebola response, but in Goue, some residents believe that clearly confusing information played a role in people’s reluctance to listen to the authorities.
Foromo, a Gouecke resident, said: “Why do they stop the market when children are still in school and sit on the same bench for three to four weeks.”
A county official who asked not to be named told Al Jazeera that the authorities weighed in on sending security forces to enforce the ban, but in the end they decided to oppose the action.
The source said that the main factor in this decision was concerns about escalating tensions and potential conflicts between security forces and market participants, which happened in 2014.
A commander of the gendarmerie confirmed this, saying that the security forces had not received any orders to enforce the ban.
Anja Wolz, Ebola Emergency Coordinator, said: “Community involvement is crucial. The response of Doctors Without Borders (Doctors Without Borders) is the same. “You need to spend time and energy to be affected. The community in the area talks and listens. You need to adjust your response based on what they say, and you need them to deal with the risk of Ebola. This must be a two-way dialogue. “
Experts say that listening to and interacting with locals is also the key to the success of the successful promotion of vaccination campaigns to help fight the hemorrhagic fever epidemic, and pointed out that the existence of the Ebola vaccine is one of the main differences in the last outbreak.
Due to bad weather on Sunday, the estimated arrival time of about 11,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Merck has been delayed, and the vaccination will now begin on Tuesday instead of Monday.
But even so, the authorities still worry that local residents may not sign the vaccination plan.
“People don’t want to believe [in Ebola] And linking the disease with other diseases, local media quoted a county official as saying that no one plans to take the vaccine.
“The citizens do not want to hear anything from us, which makes us worry about vaccinations.”
The source said that Remy Lamah, the health minister of the Guwek people, arrived in his hometown on Saturday to persuade people to take the advantages of the vaccine.
“It’s all back to community participation,” said Walz of MSF. “We’ve seen it many times in the past. If a community feels involved, listens, and empowered, then Ebola responds whether or not it is vaccinated. Measures may go well. However, if the community feels at a loss, unheard of, and becomes nervous or distrustful, then the Ebola response may face multiple difficulties regardless of whether it is vaccinated.
Reporting from Gouecke and Rahay Allahoum in Doha