Sierra Leone battles Ebola with help of Chinese workers
China-trained Thomas Samba from Sierra Leone serves as a senior regional director of the country’s National Public Health Agency.
He said Chinese health workers have now become his colleagues.
Supported by the Chinese government, in 1995 he attended Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, majoring in general practice, and studied in the city for more than five years.
According to him, public health specialists from China stayed in Sierra Leone after the 2014 Ebola outbreak to help the nation— whose citizens have a life expectancy of 50— to build capacity in outbreak response.
“We are struggling to recover from the Ebola epidemic, which killed nearly 4,000 in the country, and China’s assistance in public health is highly appreciated,” he said.
It’s important for the country of 7 million people to master how to handle emerging outbreaks, as infectious diseases like malaria remain major disease killers, he added.
With China’s help, the countryis able tomonitorand record the prevalence of various diseases, particularly contagious ones, and the number of deaths caused by them.
Also, the country has begun offering public health education at the only higher education institute of medicine.
“Two or three planned,” he said.
“We don’t know if or when Ebola will come back,” he said. The country is carrying out a post-Ebola recovery program and continuous care for Ebola survivors is a crucial part.
“Their situation is miserable, as many lose the ability to work after recovering from the virus,” he added.
Common complications include a slow processing speed, aches, worsening eyesight and lower libido, which were reported by at least 2,000 survivors.
Due to limited knowledge of Ebola, “we have no treatment or cure targeting the virus itself, only supportive measures. That involves a lot of uncertainties”, he said.
To assure them of better care, the government offers free healthcare services to all Ebola survivors. Others entitled to free services are pregnant and breast-feeding women, and children under 5 years old.
Samba said there is a vaccine against Ebola which showed great promise, but it remains very expensive.
“We are talking with global organizations like the WHO about the possibilities to use the vaccines in our country,” he said. more are