"It is a sign of hope, Ebola is not an inexorable death sentence," said Fr Jorge M Crisafulli, Provincial Salesians of Don Bosco, Anglophone West Africa.
In a communication sent to TOI, Fr Jorge said that the number of reported fatalities is 1,229 people out of 2,240 reported cases. In the last three days there have been 84 deaths. The general feeling is that numbers are higher.
"What is clear is that the Ebola pandemic is not only a "health issue" for us at this moment. It is much more than that. Something that is spreading as fast, or even faster, than the Ebola virus is fear and anxiety. Doctors and nurses feel afraid to report to their places of work due to the dread of contagion. The same happens with sick people. People are afraid to report to health facilities even for other sicknesses out of fear of being quarantined," he noted.
He rued that unfortunately hospitals in many cases became places where the infection spread faster and affected more people, since at the beginning there was no consciousness of the danger and no proper equipment for a correct approach to this viral attack. Most clinics and hospital are now closed. Sick people are kept at home which increases the risk of contamination, or brought to Ebola centers where the main purpose is to isolate and the hope of recovery is minimal, he said.
Sierra Leone and Liberia are the countries which were caught completely unprepared to face the Ebola crisis. "Unfortunately, these countries are now called "Ebola countries". Airlines have cancelled their flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone. This move was strongly criticized by the head of the World Health Organization. People, even Salesians have become "prisoners" in their own countries. No chance to go to their new placements, or back to their formation houses to continue with their studies. Another sector deeply affected is food. Food prices are on the rise and certain items are becoming scarce. The same story with disinfectants, chlorine, sanitizers and medicines. Delinquency is also on the rising. They are more cases of stealing, robberies. Monrovia, capital of Liberia is sealed. It is difficult to go out and come in."
He said that in Sierra Leone, the government is asking whether the Salesians are ready to take care of orphaned children of parents who died of Ebola. Salesians have accepted the challenge. They are now studying possibilities, resources and risks attached to such intervention. Obviously it has to be the result of a concerted effort done in network with health organizations and government agencies, he observed.