"We are not sure we will finish (the epidemic) if we continue as we are," MSF president joanne liu said in geneva on thursday. She demanded an approach that puts the wishes and fears of the patients and the village communities more center stage.
In the ebola outbreak in eastern congo, which was announced seven months ago, 907 people have been infected with the pathogen and 569 have died, according to the world health organization (WHO). The fight against the epidemic is complicated by the fact that dozens of rebel groups are active in the region. But you also have to win the trust of the people, liu stressed.
"There is a gross contradiction: on the one hand, there are the possibilities for a rapid and comprehensive ebola control with the latest medical means, such as vaccinations. On the other hand, people are dying at home because they distrust ebola control strategies and do not come to treatment centers." More than 40 percent of people are reported to die at home rather than in treatment centers. That significantly increases the risk of infection for other people.
In 43 percent of patients, no contacts with other sick people or their environment were found, according to MSF – so the source of infection was unknown. Liu called for a change in thinking to regain people’s trust. It doesn’t work when police and army try to force people to follow health rules. Sick people don’t want to go to ebola centers, "away from their relatives and surrounded by people in space suits," said liu. Physicians and nurses wear protective clothing to guard against infection.
"No forced removals should be used to search and treat patients, enforce safe burial methods and decontaminate homes," liu said. MSF had suspended its work in two locations after unknown persons attacked the treatment centers there last week.