Concerns about an Ebola Outbreak in Ghana

You are a passionate traveler and adventurer and you are not afraid of new challenges? But there is this one dangerous things that humans can not stop and which is stronger than anything else. Fatal Diseases. Read more about Ebola and it's consequences. How to confront yourself with the disease and how to make informed responsible decisions.

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.

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24 Comments

  • The Ebola does raise a big question of leaving or staying. To be very honest I don’t know what I would do in that situation, probably with the pressure of my family I would go back home.

  • Hearing on the news about Ebola ….. and considering theres no cure for it at the moment … wouldnt be wise to move on… and go in other place where you can still do volunteering works.

  • Thanks for sharing this, I’m headed to Kenya in a few weeks ad have had a number of people express concern re: ebola there. Of course the current Ebola situation is limited to West Africa, but it shows how necessary it is for accurate information to be reported and shared when an epidemic like this strikes!

  • When I’ve traveled to 3rd world countries, I’ve first gone to reputable doctors that specialize in communicable diseases and immunizations. So far, so good, as my only traveling health issues have been minor.

  • It’s always good to be informed about what’s going on, especially in a situation like this if you do plan on going. So many times people fall into the trap of what the media is without getting the real facts so it’s always worth the time to do extra research. Thanks for the info!

  • Since I lost a friend to malaria in Ghana, I make sure to be as protected as possible. It’s good to inform people like you do!

  • That’s so true! All it takes is a bit of media sensationalisation to get people suddenly over-precautious about something that may not even be the biggest risk in a region. There should definitely be more like you telling it like it is!

  • I think it’s extremely important to be aware and protect yourself against risks like these. So thanks for sharing the information in your article.
    I do know of some people who travelled to the region recently being well aware of the outbreak with the optimism that nothing bad would happen to them. However, I would not do the same.

  • It’s so important not to just go by all the media hype and look to the advice of professionals. I’ve never been in that situation so really don’t know if I’d stay or go, fingers crossed I never have to make the decision but good luck to all those who do.

  • It is just a tricky situation, you want to be safe/informed however you don’t want to live in a plastic bubble either. I’ve never been in this situation and I can’t say what I would do, that’s a hard choice. Even though Ebola isn’t a problem, Cholera. So, where do you draw the line?

  • It sounds like you are educated about the situation. You know enough to not freak out like so many others would. I’m sure Ghana needs brave volunteers like you to carry on!

  • It seems like you have taken the right approach by staying fully informed about the situations as they develop. Given your time on the ground in Ghana, I would stay unless you felt that the authorities were not able to exercise control in your area or if other volunteers start falling ill.

  • In situations like this is best to keep up to date on the latest information. It’s a delicate balance between a desire to help and your personal safety

  • This really scares me and I think awareness is key in this situation – I am not sure what I would do either – it must be hard to stay or to go – your desire to help and know that the people really need you or the need to stay safe so you can continue to do good work around the world. Hard Choice – Good Luck

  • It’s good that people are aware.. at least there would be some time to react to an outbreak in case it reached Ghana..
    But yea, you’re also so right about how everybody’s talking about Ebola but there are many more diseases that people there die from and that are preventable..

  • Hey thanks a lot for sharing how you feel in your current situation, I am a Ghanaian currently studying in Tokyo, and I really understand how you feel in that situation. For my advice always keep your self updated with other volunteers and locals also. Just like everyone is suggesting, do your best to prevent your self from catching cholera and malaria because people take them lightly. I believe both disease could be unsafe if not taken care of properly.Thanks a lot for your volunteer work and I appreciate all the hard work you put into everyday stay in Ghana. I pray for your safety and health. All the best.

  • I agree with your points about cholera, maleria etc. but Ebola is a different category of disease. Those illnesses you mention arise through poor sanitation, mosquitoes and intercourse/needle sharing. Ebola on the other hand is airborne, unbelievably infectious and kills over 50% of people who contract it.

    So I would say that the key question to ask yourself: What you are going to do if you do get it??

    You need to make that decision now, as you won’t do anyone any favours by panicking at that point and trying to get on a flight home, which is quite a likely reaction if you do contract Ebola.

    At that point it’s too late to be making plans. If you’re in it you need to have the courage to stay in it and see it through with the resources to hand. If you can’t deal with that, leave now while you can. It’s no good trying to just keep an eye on how close it gets, because that’s completely unpredictable.

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