A Field Hearings report on the current condition of Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone finds that swift interventions are required to address the health and socioeconomic needs of survivors. The Field Hearings were conducted by Mr. Olagai Simon, Co-founder of Africa Initiative for Universal Development (AIUD) in Sierra Leone and Initiative for Equality Field Hearings partner, together with two volunteers.
Field Hearings are a project of Initiative for Equality – read more here: http://www.initiativeforequality.org/what-we-do/citizen-monitoring/. The questions were developed by Mr. Olagai, along with IfE members Samuel E. Akale Clifford (Cameroon; recently with UNMEER in Liberia), Hon. Aliou Barry (Guinea; evaluating Ebola for the UN Economic Commission for Africa), Zhiyuan Song, PhD (China; Ebola researcher at Stanford University), and Deborah S. Rogers, PhD (US; Global Coordinator of Field Hearings Project).
Two Field Hearings were conducted: one at Kailahun District in the eastern region, where the first Ebola Virus case was reported, and another at Port-Loko District in the northern region, with the highest number of survivors and where the outbreak was finally contained. Read the full report here: field-hearing-report-final-october-2016
Survivors of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) are distressed and are still facing significant life changes, having lost their caregivers, relatives and friends to the disease. This is compounded by loss of livelihoods and fractured social networks in an environment already characterized by high levels of poverty and food insecurity. Almost all the survivors interviewed reported that they still suffer from a combination of physical health, mental health and socioeconomic problems.
Stigma is still a major challenge. Some of the survivors interviewed revealed that some community members view them as suspects who either brought Ebola virus to the community or infected their loved ones. Others still find it difficult to interact closely or freely with the survivors. As a result, some of the survivors have decided to migrate to other villages or towns where their status is not known.
The survivors interviewed are still faced with physical, economic and social barriers to rebuilding their lives and fully reintegrating into their communities. Many local and international organizations provided support during and immediately after the outbreak. Survivors associations were formed from the national, regional, and district levels to the chiefdom level. This seems to have raised the expectations and hopes of the survivors for the better. To date, most of these promises have not been fulfilled. At the time of the Field Hearings, very few of these programs are still providing assistance to the survivors. Swift interventions are required to address the health and socioeconomic needs of survivors.
Read the full report here: field-hearing-report-final-october-2016 For more information, contact Mr. Simon Olagai at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Deborah S. Rogers at email@example.com.
NOTE: These Field Hearings findings can be better understood in the context of analysis on the causes behind the deadly Ebola outbreak of 2013 – 2016 in West Africa. Initially portrayed in the mainstream media as a natural phenomenon aggravated by cultural practices such as eating bush meat and caring for one’s sick relatives, a more comprehensive analysis has linked the rampant outbreak to a series of economic and political failures that led to a breakdown of human ecosystems, public health systems, and public policy decision-making and funding. See, for example, the following articles: