Even though West Africa just celebrated its first year anniversary as “Ebola free” the social stigma associated with the disease still haunts the neighboring nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia— four countries hit the hardest by the two-year long vicious virus outbreak.
Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides spiritual, medical and emotional support to those in need, have called Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola, a home for over six decades.
According to the U.S. president of Samaritan’s Purse (SIM) Bruce Johnson, “The Liberian people have suffered greatly over the past twenty-five years through civil war and most recently the loss of life through the Ebola outbreak.”
The deadly virus first hit Liberia in March of 2014 and lasted until 2016. During this 24 month time frame,the virus claimed over 11,000 lives across Western Africa and almost 5,000 in Liberia alone due to a variety of factors like a weak medical system and poor infrastructure throughout the country.
In February of this, new news reports surfaced about TIME’s 2014 Ebola Fighter of the year dying shortly after childbirth. A loss that reiterated that an Ebola diagnosis comes with a negative reputation because the young woman’s post pregnancy operation difficulties could have been avoided according to her family.
Salome Karwah lost both her parents to Ebola and she herself died after she was denied immediate medical attention because the Ebola sanctioned doctor was not available at the moment and the other staff refused to treat her. On the grounds that she was an “Ebola Survivor” and “They didn’t want contact with her fluids.”
So, “They all gave her distance. No one would give her an injection,” Karwah’s sister told TIME magazine.
Now “My heart is broken,” Manley, her husband said to TIME. “Salome loves her children, her James. The one-year-old, the newborn, they will grow up never remembering their mother’s face.”
Medical professionals within Liberia like Ella Watson-Stryker, a health promoter said, “To survive Ebola and then die in the larger yet silent epidemic of health system failure… I have no words.”
Johnson said, the truth is, that “After Ebola was eradicated, SIM saw the continued trauma and stigma being suffered by Ebola survivors, families who lost family members to Ebola and those who worked closely with Ebola victims.”
Samaritan Purse’s hospital, Elwas is one of the largest Ebola friendly facilities with roughly 400 beds and is located 12 miles outside of the Liberia capital city of Monrovia.
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