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Friday, September 27, 2019

Traditional healers fuel Ebola spread in DR Congo

By Esther Nakkazi

A 39-year-old woman, a traditional healer, who died in the Salama Health Area in the Madidi district is the new validated case for Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The woman’s death would have been treated like any other but she is a traditional healer and the DRC Ministry of Health has observed the role they play in the transmission of Ebola.

“Traditional health practitioners play a key role in the transmission of the Ebola. Their transmission is by nosocomial infection,”observed the Ministry of health, DRC in a statement it issued in December 2018.

Nosocomial infection is an infection that is acquired in a hospital or other healthcare facility and is spread to the susceptible patient in the clinical setting by various means. The DRC ministry of health officials said a parallel consequence of these nosocomial infections is the contamination of a large number of healthcare providers.

Traditional healers are well-known, widely respected and they remain the health providers of choice in their communities. As such, they remain the first point of contact for some Ebola patients before they consider crossing over to a hospital or health care clinic.

Being a traditional healer, this woman had 45 contacts around her, 3 of whom confirmed positive for Ebola - her husband, mother and son, all admitted to Komanda Ebola Treatment Centre or Centres de Traitement d’Ebola (CTE).

But before that even as a confirmed Ebola case this woman and her family refused to go to a CTE and preferred to self-medicate herself until she had advanced symptoms of Ebola. She was later rushed and hospitalised at the Saint-Pierre Medical Center.

At the Saint-Pierre Medical Center, her case was confirmed and referred to a CTE. Health workers tried to persuade her and her family to go to the ETC but her family outrightly refused.

“The patient was brought home by her family on September 6, where she died at around 10 pm. Oral sampling and dignified and secure burial did not occur by refusal of his family,” said a report from the Ministry of Health, DRC.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the cumulative number of cases is 3,168, of which 3,057 are confirmed and 111 are probable. In total, there were 2.118 deaths (2007 confirmed and 111 probable) and 975 people healed.

Since vaccination began on August 8, 2018, 227,230 people have been vaccinated. On 25th September 2019, an emergency vaccination was launched in Kisansha. During the 9 days 825,000 children from 6 to 59 months in 24 health zones in the provinces of Equator, Mongala, Kwilu, Kwango, Mai-Ndombe and Kasai Oriental would be immunized.

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