Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Ebola advice from Liberia

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A man walks past a billboard warning people of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia.-Dr Coril Curtis-Warmington
Dr Coril Curtis-Warmington
The always giving Dr Coril Curtis-Warmington examines an infant at a mobile clinic in rural South Manchester.-File
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Jamaican doctor in the middle of the battle against the deadly disease urges preparation

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Dr Coril Curtis Warmington - the Jamaican medic who is serving on a mission to Ebola-hit Liberia - has offered Jamaica suggestions to prevent or contain the spread of deadly disease, should it arrive on our shores.

In an emailed response to questions from The Sunday Gleaner, Curtis-Warmington, who is busy saving lives in a country at the epicenter of the outbreak, urged local health officials to prepare for any threat of the virus, while calling on Jamaicans not to panic, despite the fact that just under 50 per cent of the people infected have died from the disease.

"To Jamaican health officials, I would remind them that they, as the front-line personnel who are custodians of the health of our people, have the power to prevent or eradicate the Ebola virus," said Curtis-Warmington.

"The best means to spread the virus is through fear. Fear debilitates and paralyses. The best way to treat, manage and eliminate this virus is by focusing on prevention and control," added the doctor, who describes her work in Liberia, as "being on a mission for God".

The angelic doctor noted that she has treated uncountable numbers of individuals with the deadly Ebola virus in the area she is located, in Central Liberia, which is approximately six hours drive from the capital, Monrovia.

She pointed out that every Jamaican would have to play their part in restricting the spread of the disease.

"To the Jamaican public, I would say that, especially during this time, we must ensure that we adhere to, and even ramp up our standard hygiene practices, such as washing of hands with soap and water regularly.

"Research has shown that the Ebola virus is present in the semen and breast milk for up to three months after the virus has been eliminated from the blood. Therefore, persons who have been infected with the Ebola virus and have subsequently recovered should abstain from sexual intercourse, and lactating mothers should avoid breast-feeding their babies for up to three months after their blood tests have been shown to be free of the virus."

Curtis-Warmington noted that with her colleague, Marian Stewart, she visited Liberia on short-term missions from 2006 to 2011. However, the two have been in Liberia since 2011 on a long-term mission.

She told The Sunday Gleaner that the mission is multi-faceted, as she volunteers her medical services at the only referral hospital in Central Liberia.

Curtis-Warmington and Stewart are also engaged in evangelism, discipleship and community-health education in a jungle village, approximately two hours from their missionary base. But their work does not end there.

"We serve in a consultative capacity (training and mentorship) to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare's regional offices, Bong County Health and Social Welfare Team."

In Liberia, Curtis-Warmington and her team have seen many of the practices which occur in sections of Jamaica.

"Home deliveries of babies (as) still happen in rural parts of Jamaica. In Liberia, in the bush, it is more the rule than the exception. Washing of hands tends to be when hands are obviously dirty; people relieving themselves in the bush rather than at sanitary conveniences is common; some burial rituals that take place in Liberia (eg. mourners touching dead bodies) are common in Jamaica, also."

Curtis-Warmington noted that some families in Liberia are still burying their dead despite a mandatory cremation order from the government.

"It is not the tradition to burn dead bodies. However, the government has mandated that bodies of Ebola-suspected and confirmed cases must be burned. However, families are allowed to bury their dead in non-Ebola-related deaths," she said. Local health officials have taken a similar stance.

As to when she was coming home, the deeply religious Curtis-Warmington declared: "When He who has sent me, gives me the go-ahead. I personally did not decide to go to Liberia. I believe that I was sent by God".

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com