Ebola: The problem of Ostracism and isolation

With more than 500 cases and over 300 deaths recorded in the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus this time affecting West Africa, increased conversations are being had about best ways to tackle the virus which has no cure, and mostly kills its victims.

An interesting article details some of the problems- lack of education about the illness, and the potentially culturally problematic advice that require victims to be isolated- which make tackling the virus and giving vistims and their families the best support difficult.

The article suggests that in spite of advice to family members of victims to keep well away from the bodies to limit spread of the disease, families still persist in wanting to prepare the bodies for burial themselves.

Also highlighted is the unintended consequence of potentially fostering ostracization of family members of victims, due to the advice to isolate ill patients and the dead.

What is key however is to have a means to invest more in infection control measures especially in health education and communication, as highlighted by the article. A strategy that engages communities in a collaborative way will go a long way to ameliorating the impact of limited human resources faced by organisations working in the field to combat Ebola.

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