Three years after Ebola outbreak declared in Guinea, survivors still suffer – charity

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A health worker injects a woman with an Ebola vaccine during a trial in Monrovia, February 2, 2015. Liberia began a trial of experimental Ebola vaccines on Monday, involving thousands of volunteers as part of an effort to slow the spread of the deadly haemorrhagic fever and prevent future outbreaks. The epidemic has killed more than 8,800 people in West Africa since it began more than a year ago, overwhelming weak healthcare systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its spread now appears to be slowing, especially in Liberia which currently has just a handful of cases. REUTERS/James Giahyue
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DAKAR – Three years after the world’s worst recorded Ebola outbreak was first declared in Guinea, hundreds of survivors who suffer from physical and mental health problems are struggling to access care, a medical charity said on Friday.

More than 1,100 people in Guinea survived the deadly virus – around a third of whom are estimated to suffer from depression, and four in 10 from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA).

Most suffer physical problems, including joint pain, headaches and chronic fatigue, health experts say.

Yet many survivors cannot afford health care, said Ivonne Loua, a doctor who runs ALIMA’s survivor care programme in Guinea.

“It is important that survivors and their families have access to quality care, because many are unable to work and cannot afford to pay their own care,” she said in a statement.

The Ebola epidemic killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 between 2013 and 2016 as it swept through the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

While the outbreak came under control last year, many survivors have been shunned by their families, communities, and even medical workers.

The virus can lie dormant and hide in parts of the body such as the eyes and testicles long after leaving the bloodstream – raising questions about whether it can ever be beaten, with West Africa’s 17,000 survivors acting as a potential human reservoir.   Continued…

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