Ebola in Liberia

I wanted to read more about Ebola because it is a problem Africa is currently experiencing, spreading to many different countries. However, I chose to read specifically about the cases and actions of Liberia. Ebola is a severe, most of the times fatal, disease spread through blood, secretions, or organs of an infected person or animal. Symptoms begin with headaches, sore throat, muscle pains and fever usually three days to two weeks until the virus progresses to the next stage. Those symptoms are then followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding, along with decreasing function of the liver and kidney. Liberia had to deploy troops this week to quarantine parts of the country in hopes to contain the disease and prevent spreading. People who may be carrying the virus are going to be given boundaries that they will not be able to cross. If these actions do not help stop the spread of the disease then next week Liberia might begin using experimental drugs for treatment.

I could not find an article written by an anthropologist about Liberia specifically but I found an article by Bonnie Hewlett and Barry Hewlett, Providing Care and Facing Death: Nursing During Ebola Outbreaks in Central Africa. Barry Hewlett has been studying Ebola for many years, well before the current outbreak in Africa. Central Africa has previously experienced outbreaks of this disease in 1995, 2000 and 2003. The Hewlett’s decided to study the people on the other side of the disease, the nurses. Nurses and other health care workers often put themselves at the greatest risk for catching Ebola. Africa lacks the essential equipment to keep nurses caring for patients with Ebola from contracting the disease. This is another dilemma countries with Ebola outbreaks are faced with. Nurses want to continue helping sick patients but they also want to keep themselves and their families healthy. Ebola is a very scary and serious virus but it is because of the dedication of these nurses and health care givers that 100% of the cases do not end in death.

Link to the article: http://anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu/media/PDF/Nurs_Journal_copy.pdf

Hewlett, B. L. “Providing Care and Facing Death: Nursing During Ebola Outbreaks in Central Africa.” Journal of Transcultural Nursing 16.4 (2005): 289-97. Web. 8 Aug. 2014.
“Liberia Declares State of Emergency as Ebola Death Toll Rises to 932.” – RT News. Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 6 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Aug. 2014. <http://rt.com/news/178556-ebola-outbreak-health-emergency/>.




This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Paige Smith says:

    With the current outbreak of Ebola in Africa and the two cases in America, it is very important to understand the origin of the virus and how we can combat it’s nature in a way that best fits the way of life in that particular African country. The Hewlett’s examined cases of Ebola virus in registered nurses and other health care workers in order to better understand the spread of the virus. To do this, they conducted interviews with nurses from the Congo and they also used interviews from the Uganda outbreaks. It was noted that the governments of both countries banned travel into or out of the state and all public events. The Hewlett’s also took into account the specific cultural models of disease. This is similar to the anthropological approach discussed in this week’s course materials. They paid special attention to the ideologies and practices of medicine making note of how they could affect the spread or treatment of Ebola virus. I think this approach provided a very helpful perspective on how to better treat individuals stricken with the virus. One example described how the nurses treating Ebola and other viruses lacked the proper equipment in these countries and that this further led to the spread of the disease. More work still needs to be done in order to understand the nature and response to the current Ebola outbreak but hopefully, by employing anthropological tactics to study and examine the culture, we can find a better way to treat Ebola so that another outbreak can be avoided.

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