A cold-blooded killer, Ebola has claimed more than 9,000 lives across West Africa since the outbreak began in December 2013.
Thirteen months later, a BMS World Mission doctor serving in Guinea says that the number of new Ebola cases is decreasing and that he hopes to see the epidemic end within the next six months.
The Ebola outbreak started in a remote Guinean village, when 2-year-old Emile began suffering from a fever, headache and diarrhea. In a matter of days, he, his 3-year-old sister and his pregnant mother were all dead.
Ebola then spread across Guinea and into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than a year on, the World Health Organization estimates that 1,995 people in Guinea have died as a result of the epidemic.
But BMS doctor Eric Bafende, who is serving in Guinea, is hopeful that Ebola is finally being brought under control.
“At the moment in Guinea, it seems that new cases of Ebola are decreasing,” he said.
“I think that everybody – the authorities, the international community – is doing well to try to stop Ebola. Some villages are still resistant, but people are working on that,” he said. “I am hopeful that within six months it is possible that Ebola can be stopped in Guinea.”
At the time of the outbreak, Bafende was serving as director of the Medical Centre in Macenta, Guinea, and BMS was able to provide a grant of more than $18,000 to help with the hospital’s response.
This funded support for vulnerable patients, triage for suspected cases and protective clothing for those helping to fight the disease.
Items the grant paid for, such as gloves, soap and chloride solution, may sound rather basic, but they have made a massive difference to the health workers serving those potentially suffering from Ebola in Macenta.
They have created a protective barrier between infected patients and the hospital staff, reducing the risk of spreading the deadly virus.
“It’s a simple thing, but it’s very important,” Bafende said. “And it’s working. In Macenta there is a public hospital, and since the outbreak started they have lost at least 10 healthcare workers. But in our medical centre we lost none. So just a simple thing can make a difference.”
Guinea is a Muslim-majority country. It ranks 179 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ human development index and 47 percent of its population lives below the poverty line.
Sarah Stone is a writer for BMS World Mission. A version of this news article first appeared on the BMS World Mission website. It is used with permission. You can follow Stone on Twitter @Sarah_Stone and BMS @BMSWorldMission.
Editor’s note: Photos and videos about the impact of the Ebola virus in Liberia, which borders Guinea to the south, are available here.