Ebola preparedness in Guinea-Bissau
Iama Coutinho Sampa, Psychologist, Health Centre in Bubaque, tells us about participating in Ebola preparedness training.
In this course, I am learning about the psychosocial aspects of dealing with patients who are either suffering from Ebola or are recovering and are going to be reintegrated into the community. To learn this is a way of avoiding and managing future discrimination which might arise, and try to negotiate with the family in mediation process to avoid conflict. For example, here in Guinea-Bissau there are several different ethnic groups and they all have their own way of conducting a burial, for instance, or treating a sick person. So, to avoid contact with the person who has the virus, or is a carrier, and to avoid spreading the virus any further, mediation is necessary to demystify and make the community understand the underlying causes and consequences of having an infected person inside their home without taking the appropriate precautions.
It is never wise to underestimate this risk, since we have cases in the region who have witnessed Ebola cases, so Guinea-Bissau is not without risk, furthermore since the situation here is precarious, we are not immune from this danger, since we come into direct contact with those other populations, especially from Guinea-Conakry, which has seen Ebola cases within its borders, also Liberia and Sierra Leone, from where it can easily enter here. It is necessary and of great importance that we prepare for that, without preparing we will be unable to manage the disease if the need arises, and we will not have the trained professionals we will need to deal with the issue, and this would only increase the risk, but with previous preparation, and foreseeing the problem, going through this process, this helps our chances for the future.
It helps; it helps a lot, because in the health centers we work with people daily who present symptoms which are identical to those of Ebola. Furthermore it helps in terms of raising awareness among the population, since I am in this course, learning all this, I can communicate all that I have learnt to the population, both in the health center and in my community, to make people understand the causes and how to deal with the issue to avoid discrimination and further contagion in the future more easily.