Today Sierra Leoneans across the country woke up at 3am in the morning to bathe in salt water as to ward off ebola.
A viral Whatsapp message was apparently sent on behalf of a Nigerian charismatic preacher called TB Joshua (who has since denied he sent the message) asking people to pray and bathe in salt water.
Educated, and illiterate men and women across the country actually believe that washing with salt water and praying would stop ebola. This is scary. In Nigeria two people have died after ingesting unsafe amounts of “anti ebola salt” being sold by a pastor.
Attached is a screen grab of Whatsapp message that went out in Sierrra Leone.
Messages like these are dangerous because they give people false hope, and they put themselves at risk. People are desperate, they are afraid, and they are misinformed.
Please continue to share our campaign to raise funds for the women’s ebola appeal to send much needed assistance to women activists and nurses in Sierra Leone. At the community level women will ensure that the live saving information can replace the fear and the myths about ebola
“I am writing to you today because my country is in a state of a medical emergency as Sierra Leone tries to cope with the current ebola outbreak.
As of today there have been 887 ebola deaths in the region of which 214 have been in Sierra Leone. With 591 confirmed ebola cases we currently have the highest number of incidences in the region surpassing even Guinea where the outbreak originally started.
The people of the eastern region of Sierra Leone closest to the Liberian border has borne the brunt of the disease. If you know of our recent history then you know that this was also the same region most devastated by the civil war. Kailahun especially has the worst infrastructure across all sectors, making the communities there the hardest to reach both with information and services.
One of the biggest issues facing the effort to contain the outbreak is fear. Despite the Ministry of Health’s sensitization campaign there are many myths and conspiracy theories keeping people from seeking care for their loved ones putting themselves and their community at risk.
However, we can spread news about the 133 survivors and give people reason to hope. We can also share life saving prevention information If we send trusted community leaders to disseminate them . This is why I am supporting the women’s campaign to stop ebola because they will send resident community activists and volunteers in the affected areas to sensitize their own communities.
A coalition of women’s groups including the 50/50 Group, Mano River Women’s Peace Network (MARWOPNET) and Women’s Forum S.L. have rounded up their members in Kenema and Kailahun to go to the 16 chiefdoms in Kenema district to try to dispel fear, confusion, and widespread denial about the causes and symptoms of Ebola. In addition to this these volunteers will be working in the markets in the Western Area and staffing 24 hr call centers.
As natural caretakers in our communities women are more at risk for contracting ebola. The Sierra Leone Association of Nurses has already lost some 37 female nurses to this outbreak.
If you decide to contribute to this fundraising effort your donation will go towards setting up an emergency relief fund for the families of the nurses who have died from ebola and the women’s sensitization initiatives in markets across the country and in the 16 chiefdoms in Kenema.
Please give whatever little you can, and if you cant give please share our GoFund Me Page on your social media feeds.
Thank you very much and please click here to make a donation.
PS – Please feel free to contact me for any additional information including the official budget from the coalition or for direct contact information to Dr Aisha Ibrahim (The 50/50 Group), Yasmin Jusu Sheriff (MARWOPNET), and or Maude Peacock (Women’s Forum S.L.)
Vickie Remoe “