Due to ignorance or lack of knowledge and

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the response to the epidemic. Due to ignorance or lack of knowledge and preparedness, health professionals misdiagnosed the EVD because its early symptoms resembled those of other diseases endemic to the region such as malaria, cholera and Lassa fever. In addition, some people thought that the disease was being spread by the government resulting in underreporting and thus contributed to the silent spread of the virus, which remained hidden and eluded containment measures. Fear spreads as fast and wide as a virus. The high mortality rate associated with Ebola threatens the performance of many interventions that could help contain the epidemic. Indeed, due to fear of infection, the public was reluctant to engage in contact tracing; infected persons were hesitant to present themselves for treatment; and health workers were frightened to provide care. This was further complicated by the loose migratory pattern in the region and risky cultural practices. The longstanding cultural practices that people were understandably reluctant to abandon contributed to the further spread of infection. Due to the culture of burying the dead near their ancestors, corpses were transferred long distances, which thereby fuelled new outbreaks. When people thought that their social, cultural and economic rights were being violated, they often resorted to physically assaulting health workers. The difficulty of coordinating Ebola-related aid and of treating infected patients using existing infrastructures is another impediment to stopping the epidemic. Most other countries are in the same health sector conditions as those in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The countries are not prepared for any serious public health crisis like the EVD outbreak; this calls for a regional approach to preventing EVD in the future. EVD does not respect age. All age groups are affected, but the heaviest toll is on the most active segment of the population (15-44 years) – the labour force. This has serious negative implications on the labour market and national productivity. The toll is also heavy on children. Around 20 percent of the infected cases are children. Over 16,600 children either lost one or both parents to EVD, which makes them more vulnerable to poverty. They lost school hours, ranging from 486 hours in Guinea and 780 hours in Sierra Leone. There is a feminization of the EVD, and the disease’s impact is more on women than men in the three epicentre countries. As of 7 January 2015, the number of EVD cases was higher among women (50.8%) than among men (49.2%) in the three epicentre countries. On per 100,000 population, women are more affected than men (118 against 115). The gender disparity is more pronounced in Guinea and Sierra Leone. As care providers, women are more likely to be exposed to the disease transmission vectors such as vomit or other bodily fluids of an infected family member. Furthermore, certain traditional practices and rituals performed on the deceased mostly by women can also pose an increased risk.
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  • Fall '19
  • West Africa

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