Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of traveling abroad is the risk of infections, communicable diseases such as Malaria or outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera or diarrhea. The current situation in West Africa is also raising concerns about Ebola in Ghana amongst volunteers.
Raphael Feikus from Patriots Ghana shares us his concerns about Ebola in Ghana, Cholera and other diseases. Have you been confronted with such challenging situations? What did you do?
Should I stay or should I go?
The Ebola virus in West Africa is still not under control and it has cost about 2,100 lives so far (18.09.2014 – source: International Business Times). Although Ebola has not reached Ghana yet, a lot of people here are concerned, including me and my friends. This is a common topic of discussion almost every time we meet.
As a background, Ebola is a viral disease caused by a family of virus called Ebola virus, named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it was discovered in 1976. There are five different strains of the virus, from which Zaire Ebola virus is the deadliest strain with a fatality rate of 90%.
In March, when the outbreak came to the media, a lot volunteers left Ghana. What should I do? To be honest, I am concerned about the current situation, but not really afraid.
Although there are no Ebola outbreaks in Ghana, people here are very aware about the disease, risks, symptoms and necessary safety measures. Ebola is a daily topic on the news, TV, radio and social media. Young kids often ask me: ‘Obroni (white man), tell me about Ebola!’ However, I think the risk of an infection now is extremely low, because, there is no transmission possible within the incubation time.
I believe people are concerned about the wrong disease. The risk of Malaria, Cholera or simple Diarrhea is so much higher than Ebola.
Sadly, something as mundane as diarrhea, a preventable and treatable condition is the second leading cause of death in Ghana. According to the UNICEF latest report, diarrhea kills an estimated 1.9 million children each year more than malaria and AIDS combined.
Cholera in Ghana
In fact there is a Cholera outbreak in the region where I live.
Cholera is a preventable infectious disease caused by a bacteria called the Vibrio Cholerae. It is enhanced by lack of environmental sanitation. In other words, surroundings are not clean, open defecation might be a common practice and water bodies are polluted. Cholera causes a severe diarrhea, dehydration and if untreated could be fatal.
Nevertheless, I feel concern about the current situation and check the news daily. It’s difficult to make the decision to leave. I’m really enjoying my volunteer work here, I’m learning a lot on the field. So, I reevaluate every day the duration of my stay and whether it’s time for me to leave or not.
I would like to know what you guys think, if you were me what would you do?
Raphael is an engaged business man who has decided to take a career break and volunteer in Africa. He is currently involved in a microfinance project in Ghana. Check out Raphael’s volunteer stories and volunteer opportunities of Patriots Ghana and share your feedback with him here.