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Sierra Leone's first Ebola-hit community reconsiders its traditions

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  • Sierra Leone's first Ebola-hit community reconsiders its traditions

    Kailahun's first spate of cases is believed to have originated from the funeral of a traditional healer in a village close to where the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone borders meet.
    Ebola sufferers were crossing to see her from Guinea before she too succumbed to the virus. Many west Africans believed Ebola was a curse, and turned to their local witchdoctor rather than attempt the long distances and meet the elevated costs of government health facilities.
    "Ebola came, but it came with lessons. Most of them who treated Ebola patients died," Massaquoi said.
    "It was only when the powerful healers started dying that people started believing this is real. We lost quite a good amount of them," he said, with many no longer as convinced of their invincibility.
    The Red Cross sought to engage the healers in the fight against the virus, persuading some to advise visitors that they could not cure Ebola, and pointing them to dedicated treatment centres.
    Prevention in the form of better hygiene is highly visible in the proliferation of hand-washing stations at the string of villages that dot this rural district.