'Naked locals with knives' drives Red cross away from Ebola-stricken Guinea
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The world got a startling demonstration as to why the deadly Ebola virus rages unchecked in some African nations, in spite of the best of efforts. The Red Cross has temporarily suspended its Ebola containment efforts in southeast Guinea after a group of "naked locals armed with knives" drove medical staff away. This, in spite of the fact that hundreds of people have died of the disease there.
Stopping the spread of the Ebola virus is tied in to cultural practices in rural communities where victims are buried according to traditional beliefs.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Staff were accosted in the town of Gueckedou, which is 403 miles southeast of the capital Conakry. The very unfortunate incident is just the latest in a series of attacks directed towards international health workers, who the locals accuse of bring the disease to Guinea.
In a related incident, a Medecins Sans Frontieres. Or MSF, or Doctors Without Frontiers center in nearby Macenta was attacked by youths two months ago. An MSF car with staff inside it had been pelted with stones by young men two weeks ago, the non-governmental organization said.
The organ-melting disease of Ebola has been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Ebola outbreak is the largest and deadliest ever, according to the World Health Organization, which has reported 467 deaths from 759 known cases since February.
"Locals wielding knives surrounded a marked Red Cross vehicle. We've suspended operations for safety reasons. I imagine this won't be the last time this happens," a Red Cross official said.
Only international staff have been removed and that operations had continued, the Red Cross states.
"We removed two international staff from Gueckedou, but they will return to work soon. Local staff and volunteers that live in the area remained," Benoit Carpentier, senior public communications officer for the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva said.
Marc Poncin, MSF's emergency coordinator in Guinea added more about the harrowing incident.
"Young men stand around the car with sticks and scream that you're not welcome, and there'll be trouble," Poncin said. "We are scared, and if you're scared, you cannot put in place the measures to control the epidemic. You can't do proper burials, or find suspected cases."
The incident in Guinea came on the eve of a meeting in Ghana of 11 health ministers from West Africa to discuss how to stop the spread of the virus.
The outbreak in West Africa has left some of the world's poorest states, with porous borders and weak health systems undermined by war and misrule, grappling with one of the most lethal and contagious diseases on the planet.
Stopping the spread of the virus is tied in to cultural practices in rural communities where victims are buried according to traditional beliefs.
Disinformation among the uninformed and superstitious people here is being spread by high-tech means. One text message circulating in the town of Gueckedou explains how a mixture of hot chocolate, Nescafe, sugar and lemon are the cure for Ebola.
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