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Amid Stigma, Guinea's Ebola Survivors Pitch In at ETUs

by Karim Camara November 04, 2014

Guinean authorities say they are planning to move the country's main Ebola treatment center to a larger site. The center has been overwhelmed by new cases in the past month. VOA toured the center and met with a woman recently cured of Ebola who explained her ordeal.

The Ebola treatment center at Donka hospital in Conakry has more than 70 patients admitted but the center only has 48 beds. Many of the sick are not from Conakry, but they came here to seek treatment.

The national coordination team against Ebola says it is opening more treatment centers across the country to stop patients from coming to Conakry. This center at Donka Hospital is also being moved and expanded.

Danphron Saffi, 30, an Ebola survivor, was treated here. She said the hardest part of her ordeal came after she was released.

She says when she was released, the situation was painful and she wanted to return to the center. But she discovered that she had already been rejected. No one wants to be near her or have contact with her anymore, Saffi says, adding that she has been totally stigmatized.

Not contagious

Saffi has tested negative for Ebola. She is no longer contagious and considered immune to reinfection, but her family rejected her. She says she lost her job as a teacher.

School authorities told her there is no room for her in the classroom because her presence there would stigmatize the school.

So she has come back to the treatment center where she is helping doctors care for patients. Saffi says she provides emotional support and tries to reassure patients that they too can be cured. She tells them not to be afraid of the doctors who for safety reasons must wear head-to-toe protective gear.

Saffi is one of about 600 people believed to have been cured of Ebola in Guinea.

She says her country must do more to help survivors.

Saffi says it is not an easy task to treat an Ebola patient, but now is also the time to help those cured to find their place in society.

The regional epidemic started in southeastern Guinea late last year, and it has spread and continues to resurge in various parts of the country. The capital, Conakry, continues to report new cases, as well as several towns in the southeast.

Guinea has opened new treatment centers in Forecariah and Kindia near the Sierra Leonian border. Each center has 20 beds and 10 doctors.

President Alpha Conde says Ebola will be kicked out the country by the end of the year. Schools remain shut and health workers continue to complain that the government is not paying their allowances.

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