Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who have been running the ELWA 3, Ebola Management Centre in Paynesville, Monrovia since August, discharged the 500th recovered patient, on Sunday the 4th of January, his 33rd birthday. The recovered patient, John Mulbah, from Soul Clinic Community was admitted to ELWA 3 on Christmas Eve after contracting the virus from his wife, who he cared for whilst she was ill.
“When Keita, my wife fell sick I was even going as far as to bathe her. I brought her ORS at the medicine store but her condition did not improve so I called the ambulance and they brought her here to ELWA 3” says John. “Soon after I began to feel weak and the ambulance came for me”.
There is currently no treatment or cure for Ebola but patients benefit from a variety of standard supportive therapies at ELWA 3 including oral and IV rehydration treatment, anti-malarial medication, antibiotics, multivitamins and individualized treatment for the symptoms of Ebola like fever, diarrhea vomiting and body pains. Patients also benefit from the emotional support of family visits. Both family and friends are able to come and visit their loved ones in a specially designed visitors’area and are supported by the psycho-social team whilst they do so.
“Before I came here I heard a lot of bad things about ELWA but once I got here, they took really good care of me. Some of the people here are very sick but the MSF staff give them medicine, feed them, bathe them and even change their diaper” says John.
An important part of treatment for Ebola is proper nutrition, which helps put a patient’s body in the best condition to fight the virus. All patients at ELWA 3 receive a proper meal, three times a day, as well as juice and biscuits.
“I was eating, on time, three times a day and I was taking lots of medicine,” says John”. Some people outside are scared of the medicine but that medicine is the reason why today I am going home today.”
“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the 500th survivor here at ELWA 3” said KassiaEchavarri Queen, Field Coordinator for ELWA 3. “Our teams work very hard to make sure that every person admitted gets the best support possible. It is very fulfilling to see our patients return home to their families.”
After discharge, John was taken home by two MSF health promoters, who serve a vital role in informing the community about the virus and helping survivors reintegrate into their community. They reminded his neighbors that he and his wife, who also survived Ebola and was discharged a few days before John, pose absolutely no risk to the community. Like all survivors of Ebola John and Keita are not contagious and should return to their normal lives, now free of Ebola. The MSF staff also reminded the community to keep washing their hands and call for help when someone in their family becomes sick or dies.
As a final word, John had some advice for others who may contract the virus “For people who are scared to come to the ETU, my advice is that the more care you get the more chance you have to overcome the virus. You do not have to bring anything with you, they give you clothes, they give you soap, they give you a toothbrush, they give you everything you need. If you come late you will have a hard time to survive. You must always report yourself on time so that you can one day go home.”
MSF has been running ELWA 3, Ebola Treatment Centre in Monrovia since August and a 10 bed transit unit, for suspected Ebola patients at Redemption Hospital since October. Late in 2014, MSF distributed malaria treatment to over 350,000 Monrovia residents and 50,000 home disinfection kits to households across the capital
Before the 2014 Ebola outbreak, MSF ran emergency operations in response to the 14 years of civil conflict that raged in Liberia until 2004 and in the post war period. Teams also provided emergency health care for refugees from conflicts in neighboring countries and improved access to health services more generally through the set-up and management of hospital projects in the capital Monrovia, as well as in remote areas.