Kenyan doctor who joined fight against Ebola
Date and time: 
Tue, 2014-09-23 08:30
Location / Venue: 

Nairobi, Kenya

A Kenyan doctor who has been battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa returned home with moving tales of families being wiped out in days as people’s economic and social activities slowly grind to a halt.

Dr Wanjiru Waithira, who was on an assignment with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Sierra Leone, tells of a people imprisoned by the epidemic. Their moods oscillate between tears and sorrow when a loved one dies and celebrations when another is discharged from hospital, free of the virus.

Schools have been closed and people no longer sit in groups to discuss favourite pastimes like football. Weddings and other social events stand banned, she says. 

“I have never seen anything like that. People are dying. Basically, life has sort of stopped. It affects you…you see children being left alone ....,” Dr Waithira told the Nation in an interview last Friday.

She spoke as the affected countries implemented a lock-down and shut borders in a bid to contain the contagion which has killed thousands and triggered a global health scare. Last week, the UN Security Council, declared Ebola a threat to international peace and security.

Dr Waithira was serving in Sierra Leone for the second time. Having been initially posted by MSF in December last year, she came back to Kenya in June before being sent back. But things were different when she touched down in Freetown for the second time.
Her base was Kailahun District, a region in the eastern part of the country. It borders the Gueckedou Triangle in Guinea, where the first Ebola case was reported in March.

SPRAYED WITH CHLORINE

MSF runs an 80-bed Emergency Case Management Centre there.
For Dr Waithira, precaution was always the maxim. After a pre-deployment training in Brussels, Belgium, she hit the ground. She had to wear the work clothes, known as the Personal Protective Equipment - a set of layered clothing of mask, overalls and gumboots to reduce contact with the infected people.

Medics have to wash and be sprayed with chlorine in-between seeing patients.

Despite her moving experience, Dr Waithira says she loves her job and would not hesitate to go back, if called upon to. Her joy was seeing people walk home after recovery.

“When I left, we had about 62 patients who were cured. The number might have gone up,” she adds.

Adopted from Daily Nation - September 22, 2014.

Expiry Date: 
Sat, 2017-09-30 08:30