EBOLA IN SIERRA LEONE

On november 2014 Mads went to Freetown, and in other parts of Sierra Leone to document the emergency that has hit this region.

In some ways life goes on as usual in northern Sierra Leone, despite the Ebola crisis. People continue to gather around village water pumps, braid each other’s hair, wash their clothes in the river and hang them out to dry in front of mud-walled houses.

But it’s impossible to avoid the fact of the outbreak for long. Every few miles police or soldiers stop traffic at checkpoints and take each traveller’s temperature. People file out of minibuses, line up for officials wielding thermometers, and reboard their vehicles on the other side of the cordon. Posters describing the signs and symptoms of Ebola are pasted up on buildings and houses; schools are empty, their gates closed and classes cancelled.

The number of cases is still rising in some areas in Sierra Leone, including Freetown, and there are still not enough treatment beds for everyone who needs them in this country. Sierra Leone is still seeing hundreds of new cases a week; 385 were reported in the week ending November 23, WHO says. And although the three survivors left the treatment center in Kerry Town today, 20 Ebola patients stayed behind.

There’s no one reason why the epidemic is still growing in parts of Sierra Leone, but a contributing factor is the difficulty of convincing people who have never experienced the disease to change the way that they live their lives, care for the sick and bury the dead.