Communities cautioned against stigmatization and denial in Ebola Fight in LiberiaOct 29, 2014
As the United Nations System and the International Community at–large continues to mobilize financial and human resources to respond to the Ebola crisis in Liberia, the United Nations Development Programme has sounded an appeal to local communities to stop the denial of the disease and stigmatization of those declared Ebola- free by health authorities.
UNDP Country Director in Liberia Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen said denial and stigmatization are crucial elements that need to be tackled in the fight against the disease. Dr. Kamaluddeen noted that as long as communities remain in denial and those Ebola survivors are not accepted in the society, efforts being made by the Government and the international Community to tackle this health crisis will prove fruitless.
The UNDP Country Director made the appeal at a community engagement with residents of District 7 on Ashmun Street, as part of a 3-day Mission by UNDP Regional Bureau Officials led by its Director for Policy and Programme Support Magdy Martínez-Solimán to assess the Ebola situation in the Country.
During the interaction, a resident of the community and an Ebola survivor who explained her story said she lost five members of her family. Henrerietta Cerley said following the death of her relatives, she was quarantined along with the other children in the home by authorities of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Ms. Cerley however attributed the deaths to poison, even though she believes Ebola exist. “I lost my mother, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and my grandson….it wasn’t Ebola, it was poison but everybody considered it to be Ebola…” Henrietta alleged.
She further narrated that since the death of her family members she and the surviving children are being stigmatized by relatives, friends and other community members.
Henrietta’s assertion that her relatives died from poison, prompted the visiting UNDP Regional Bureau delegation to caution residents against denial of the disease.
UNDP Country Director Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen told community members to avoid discriminating against Ebola survivors and families of people suspected to have died of the virus.
The home of Henrietta is amongst communities in Monrovia, traced and quarantined so far, by the Ministry of Health through UNDP supported Active Case Finding Community Based Initiative.
The Coordinator of the Programme Dr. Mosoka Fallah said the initiative has afforded community members the opportunity to participate and own the quarantine process in their neighborhoods.
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