Ebola victims feel ‘forsaken’ says Liberian bishop

24 October 2014

by a staff reporter


Precaution: a health-worker sprays a colleague's boots with disinfectant in Monrovia on Monday

Precaution: a health-worker sprays a colleague's boots with disinfectant in Monrovia on Monday

SUFFERERS from of the Ebola virus in West Africa believe that "God has forsaken them", a Liberian Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Fallah Borwah, has said.

Bishop Borwah was prevented from attending Pope Francis's recent synod on the family because of the travel ban on countries affected by the virus.

He urged his fellow bishops, and the Church, to remember that it was the poor who are their priority, and said that whole families were being "decimated".

Speaking to the US Catholic News Service, he said: "We are losing our humanity in the face of Ebola. . . This disease makes impossible ordinary human kindnesses, such as putting your arm around someone who is crying."

His diocese of Gbarnga is working on food distribution, as the price of rice and other basic foods has risen sharply as a result of the outbreak of the virus.

He said that there was "a lot of anger" among Liberians, mostly aimed at people in positions of leadership and power, as well as "a feeling that God has forsaken us again".

Churches and charities across West Africa have been involved in spreading messages about hygiene and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus, which has now killed more than 4500 people.

The Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Monrovia, Liberia, the Very Revd Herman Browne, has just emerged from self-imposed quarantine because of the virus, after his wife came into contact with it through a friend.

Dean Browne urged his congregation to stay vigilant, and not to hide sick family members who had the virus. Worshippers sanitise their hands before entering the cathedral, and consecrated communion wafers are distributed with tweezers.

In the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, the Anglican Church has given land for the construction of an Ebola isolation unit next to the Ola During Children's Hospital.

At the handing over of the land, the chairman of the Diocesan Development, Estate, and Enterprise Board, Andrew Karmoh Keili, said: "The Anglican diocese of Freetown is pleased to contribute to the national fight against Ebola by this offer, especially as the Ola During Hospital is the only children's referral hospital in the country."

Christian Aid has warned that widespread hunger among large swaths of the population is undermining efforts to quarantine all those who have come into contact with the virus.

Christian Aid's humanitarian programmes manager, Adrian Ouvry, said: "Households, neighbourhoods, and even entire districts have been isolated in Sierra Leone.

"To break the chain of transmission, you have to limit people's movements, but it is counter-productive to restrict their movement without addressing their basic needs. Endemic poverty, increased food prices, and limited support to affected communities are forcing people to leave quarantined homes to fend for their families - increasing the chances of transmitting the virus to others.

"Governments and aid agencies must recognise that quarantine will only be effective if those who are isolated are guaranteed a sufficient and constant supply of nutritious food and clean water. Otherwise, the issue of hunger and food security will undermine the success of quarantine measures."

The World Food Programme has begun providing emergency food-assistance to more than a million people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

The World Health Organization said this week that serum made from the blood of Ebola survivors should be available to treat infected patients in Liberia in weeks; a vaccine is likely to be available by January.

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