Education is key to stopping the spread of Ebola

| September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

23 West AfricaNative Africans who now call the Twin Cities area home said that stopping the spread of the Ebola virus will require a cultural change in their homelands.

“If people hear someone is sick, they go to see them,” explained Tenneh Johnson, a Liberia-born nurse who works in Minneapolis.

People regularly visit family, neighbors and friends by just walking into their homes without knocking and without invitation. And, if the family is eating, they are welcome to join them.

“It’s the culture that got the disease spreading so fast,” admitted Jannie Seibure, like Johnson a parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center.

Because the virus is spread through transfer of bodily fluids, according to the best science to date, the casual, friendly, welcoming attitude toward others enables the transmission of bodily fluids such as perspiration and saliva.

Johnson said the people of West Africa need to be educated to wash their hands more frequently, not to touch people who are perspiring, not to use the same utensils as others, and not to allow children to play in crowded places.

“The education piece is big,” Johnson said. “We need to do the awareness.”

Both Seibure and Johnson said they were elated to learn that the United States is sending military troops to train people in effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

“This disease is new to the people,” Seibure said. Johnson added, “They didn’t believe Ebola is real.”

When she spoke via a Skype connection with friends in Liberia, they questioned the truth of her comments about Ebola, wanting to know if the U.S. government had put her up to it.

With world travel as it is today, the importance of fighting Ebola before it spreads beyond Africa is urgent, the members of St. Alphonsus’ Pan African Network said.

“We are fighting Ebola not to save Liberia,” offered Maya Ignabode, “but ourselves.

“Even if it is not here, we cannot wait until it comes to our door.”

 

Read more: Parishioners with African ties send supplies hoping to stave off Ebola

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Category: Local News