Monday, August 17, 2015 11:20 am
Monrovia: Clinic Opens for Ebola Survivors
To help fight other ailments that come with surviving Ebola, the disease that ravaged Liberia and its environs some months ago, a health centre named Ebola Survivors Clinic, has been opened in Monrovia, the country’s capital.
Surviving Ebola is only part of the story. According to the World Health Organisation, which made the disclosure, many patients experience “post-Ebola” symptoms which include joint pains, dizziness, blurred vision, inability to concentrate and headaches.
The clinic reportedly opened recently at the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, and that while it offers treatment, support and training for Ebola survivors, it also helps health-care workers better understand the disease. A Liberian doctor, Moses Soka, runs the Ebola Survivors Clinic. “The line around Redemption Hospital in Monrovia was already stretching around the street corner when Soka arrived. The Ebola Survivors’ Clinic had only been opened a week, but word had spread and patients were beginning to come in numbers, patients of all ages and from across the city,” WHO said in its report.
This is a new chapter in the Ebola story for Dr Soka, WHO reported, adding that at the height of the epidemic, Dr. Soka, a young Liberian doctor, took on one of the toughest jobs in the country when he was made the clinical director of the Ministry of Defence Ebola treatment Centre, ETC, in Monrovia, where he worked through the darkest days of the epidemic. Eventually patient numbers began to dwindle and the tide turned toward zero cases. However, it became apparent that the effects of Ebola do not end when the infection is cleared.
WHO quoted Soka as saying once cured of Ebola, “patients began to develop symptoms, such as joint pains, dizziness, blurred vision, lack of ability to concentrate; sometimes so bad patients have difficulty returning to work.” WHO statistics shows Liberia may have as many as 5000 Ebola survivors and this makes such hospitals necessary. It revealed: “Currently, there are four such survivors’ clinics in Monrovia, with more opening in the next few weeks around Liberia. Gradually, the entire country will be covered. The end goal is to integrate survivor care into the Ministry of Health essential package of services as part of restoring and expanding basic health services, with WHO providing technical and logistic support, including validation of guidelines and supporting clinics with basic drugs and supplies.”
WHO Representative in Liberia, Alex Gasasira, says of the development: “beyond treatment of the symptoms, there are many things we simply do not understand about what happens to these patients after they are cured. These clinics not only provide support for the patients, but provide valuable research data to help us determine the cause and best course of treatment.”
In addition to addressing these symptoms more generally, the Ebola Survivors Clinic in Redemption is also hosting its Men’s Health Screening Program where free semen testing for Ebola virus is offered to willing male survivors who are sexually active, as well as sexual health counseling and condom distribution, WHO said, adding that the goal is to enable them to make informed choices about their sexual health and be able to protect their partners from possible sexual transmission of Ebola.
“This work is also critical for research to see precisely how long remnants of the virus may survive in semen and in the eyes, as viral sanctuaries. It is thought that transmission of the virus by survivors is a very rare event but it is important to understand how long the virus persists and to ensure that survivors practise safe sex,” WHO said. Judging by the small number of cases we are aware of, it is probably not easy to transmit, but we hope to have more evidence soon to give more concrete guidance. In the meantime, we are advising patients to continue to practise safe sex for the time being until we know more,” explained Dr Soka even though previously survivors were advised to abstain from sex or to practise safe sex for 90 days after being declared Ebola-free.”