Deep mistrust, political instability and violence is fueling the pro-longed Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ebola patients are refusing treatment while others reject vaccination. Instead they prefer to seek help from traditional healers.
A couple, Mussa and Asiya Kethembo was buried on Sunday after they refused to seek treatment for the virus.
As communicators, we are here to convince them and talk about the benefit of this vaccine.
“For the couple, we spent two weeks negotiating to go to the CTE (Ebola treatment centre) quickly, but the husband (Mussa) wanted witch doctors (traditional healers). He let some into his home”, said community mobilizer, Josue Paluku Kalume.
Mussa and Asiya Kethembo left behind two children, including their 2-month old baby, Lahya.
But thankfully, Layha has tested negative for Ebola. Rumors that those who accept vaccination contract the Ebola virus is stopping people from receiving the experimental vaccine.
“Yes, a few times but they’re also saying we will die after vaccination. But when we had the patient Ebola in our neighborhood, we had to accept the vaccine”, a local resident said.
Now, the task is for health workers to dispel these rumors.
“They (people) interpret the vaccines in their own way and they believe that after you get vaccinated, it will be difficult to give birth, that the vaccine is going to kill them, that the vaccine was designed to exterminate that community. So as communicators, we are here to convince them and talk about the benefit of this vaccine”, Kalume said.
Health experts say the experimental Ebola vaccine has saved multitudes in eastern DR Congo.
So far more than 1,700 people have died of the virus. Last week, the World Health Organization declared Ebola an international health emergency.