08 January 2009 Comments
So here I am in Kampungu, in the Western Kasaï province, in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I’d heard so much about this place from colleagues I met on past MSF projects, who had worked here during last year’s Ebola epidemic It’s so interesting to finally see everything in person.
It’s also my very first mission in a forest, and though it’s not of those deep forests, where you can hardly see your hand in front of you, it’s still much greener and more humid that anything I’ve experienced up to now!
I went into the isolation zone when our last patient was inside. Donning the full suit is a saga in itself, but it is nothing compared to taking it off again. When removing it you have to be so careful, because you are leaving « isolation » — i.e. you leave the contaminated zone and move into the ‘clean’ zone. A guard waits for us at the exit and guides us, stage by stage. It is quite an art!
The patient, a young boy, seemed in great spirits! He was clearly very happy to come out and finally go back home. He seemed to find all these white suits rather amusing, especially when he witnessed everyone getting undressed with such care.
Tomorrow the Ebola treatment centre will be empty and we will disinfect everything, while strictly sticking to all the safety rules, so we are ready, just in case. We will take advantage of the calm period to train the staff on the various tasks to be carried out in the isolation centre, especially dressing and undressing. We will also provide general information about what Ebola actually is, how to avoid it, how it is transmitted, and so on.
It looks like rather a calm day is on the horizon!