Health care in Sierra Leone's capital city has "crumbled" because the deadly Ebola outbreak has made people too terrified to go to hospitals and some doctors wary of treating those who do show up, a physician said Friday.
Health care in Sierra Leone’s capital city has “crumbled” because the deadly Ebola outbreak has made people too terrified to go to hospitals and some doctors wary of treating those who do show up, a physician said Friday.
Speaking at the launch of a public education program in Freetown, Kwame O’Neil said patients suffering from all kinds of ailments are dying for lack of treatment because of these fears. Ebola is a deadly disease for which there is no known cure and which is spread through contact with bodily fluids.
One young girl died of appendicitis when, after showing up at a hospital, a doctor there denied he was a doctor and refused to treat her, O’Neil said.
O’Neil also said his own aunt died after suffering a stroke and being left untreated at a hospital for two days.
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Sierra Leone has recorded 1,107 confirmed cases and 430 confirmed deaths of Ebola, according to the World Health Organization. But the country’s health ministry says most are outside the capital. The outbreak has killed about 1,900 people across five countries, according to WHO.
By contrast, the capital of neighboring Liberia has been the focal point of the outbreak there.
On Friday, Liberian officials confirmed that a police barracks in central Monrovia was shut down after the wife of one of the officers died of Ebola. Information Minister Lewis Brown said the officers decided to “self-quarantine.” About 35 officers live in the barracks with their families, said Abraham Kromah, deputy director of the national police force.
Liberian Christian leaders planned to convene about 100 “prayer warriors” at a historic church in the capital to drive out Ebola, said Rev. Kortu Brown, vice president of the Liberian Council of Churches.
The event was being held at the Providence Baptist Church, where Liberia’s declaration of independence was signed in 1847.
“It is where Liberia has always prayed in the past when it was confronted,” Brown said.
A state of emergency in Liberia restricts public gatherings, though church services have largely continued unimpeded.
In an article published in Time magazine, Dr. Kent Brantly, an American who contracted Ebola in Liberia and who survived after receiving an experimental treatment in the United States, said the world needs to act.
“Ebola has changed everything in West Africa,” Brantly wrote in his first-person account. “We cannot sit back and say, ‘Oh, those poor people.’ We must think outside the box and find ways to help.”
Paye-Layleh reported from Monrovia, Liberia.