For Ebola Patients in Sierra Leone, Survival Takes More Than Medicine

slide_355219_4197552_compressedBO, Sierra Leone—Morning rounds have just begun at an Ebola treatment center here in the city of Bo, in central Sierra Leone.

The patients who are able shuffle out of a tent towards two layers of chain-link fence that separate them from the outside—2 meters minimum distance. Some clutch bottles of water, bright orange soda, or foil-wrapped nutritional bars. A woman in an orange printed wrap skirt lags behind the others, struggling to slide a sandal on to her foot. She came here in bad shape with her husband and three children, but she is improving; she was recently taken off intravenous fluids.

But this is a terrible day for her: She lost her three-year-old son here just yesterday. Today, another of her children stays inside the treatment tent, too sick to come out. Through the fences, a health worker tries to convince her that all is not lost, not to give up. “Drink fluids. Eat, eat,” he tells her.

For all the medicine they provide at this center, physicians and staff from Doctors Without Borders spend as much time encouraging the patients to eat, drink, and keep fighting. Every patient gets a standard regimen of antibiotics, paracetemol and other pain medications, vitamins, oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids. Drugs can control nausea for those who need them; everyone gets… (read more)

ebola, medicine, Sierra Leone