Freetown residents act to protect themselves from Ebola

Ebola Outbreak

In the past four months, 10 people have died from Ebola in Devil Hole, a community on the fringes of the capital Freetown. Concerned about the disease, residents themselves took on the fight against it. Hassan Bangura works for the town’s Ebola taskforce. They do daily house to house searches looking for the sick. CCTV America’s Katerina Vittozzi reported from Devil Hole.

“Avoid body contact! If you know anyone that is sick, you have to send them to the hospital or call 117. People can then come and take care of them. If someone dies, don’t touch the body! Call 117 and they will bury the body safely,” Devil Hole Ebola Taskforce Hassan Bangura said.

There are limitations to this community taskforce. Medical knowledge is basic, and they do make mistakes. Some temperature readings would mean the person had hypothermia.

But they do try and raise awareness about Ebola, amongst young and old.

The community task force carries out these searches of Devil’s Hole three times a day, morning, afternoon and 7p.m. Not only do they want to check there are no sick people within their community, but they want to sensitize those here about the dangers of keeping sick people at home and touching dead bodies.

The community is also enforcing new regulations, making it an offense to house strangers who may be hiding in Devil Hole to escape Ebola quarantines in their own towns. Hassan said they had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

“We came together as a community after we’d complained several times on the radio and we just couldn’t wait for the government to come and help us. So we decided to volunteer on our own with the help of the elders in the community. People were dying here and although we asked for help it wasn’t coming fast enough. This is the reason we came together because our families are dying in the community. If we continued to wait for the government to come and rescue us, more people will die,” Hassan said.

Aid agencies and the government are trying to reach hard-hit communities with food and water. But in this western part of Sierra Leone there are simply too many communities that need help.