While the death toll from the Ebola scourge in West Africa continues to rise, there’s another side of the sad story that we have to exhaustively exploit to the best of our ability – vis-a-vis – the PSYCHOLOGICAL battle!



The destructive aspect of the Ebola virus is not just evident in its lethal nature, but in its anti-cultural humiliation of victims before and after their death, as well as the brutal manner it drives a wedge between flesh-and-blood family relationships. When thoroughly studied, the virus appears to be working on a plan which aimed at unleashing maximum sufferings of societies by first of all creating an atmosphere of total panic, then isolating victims from their loved ones, effectively shut down the dynamics of people’s movement and function of the system. With the knowledge that the chances of survival are slim, it’s quite possible for the resulting psychological trauma to ‘half-kill’ the victims even before coming into contact with the real death!

On many occasions in my lifetime, I have come to see patients with terminal illnesses go on to live for many more years even after being written off by specialist doctors. Even though from a general perspective we cannot deny the role of destiny in these on-going realities of life, yet, we also can’t ignore the fact that the psychological handling of this killer virus can play a pivotal role in the fight to survive.

It is now an acknowledged fact in our case that, even though the virus is yet to get a reliable cure, the survival rate in West Africa – particularly in Sierra Leone – is unprecedented in the history of the virus. Such realization thus supports the fact that a combination of good fate, luck and the sheer determination to survive can make a difference while the efforts are being invested to find an everlasting treatment in medical field.

It will be wise therefore to allow patients with Ebola to gain access to mobile phones so as to encourage them to talk to their loved ones. They should be encouraged to watch movies, football, listen to their favourite songs etc, just to help them find a reason to survive. They should be made to listen to stories of those who have survived the illness, as this can inspire them to hold on. Musicians should produce songs with lyrics good enough to galvanize patients, even if it has to do with the heroes of our folktales, talk shows hosting survivors, news of possible vaccines etc.

We all know that the reality on ground is full of despair. We also know that our responsibilities in seeking for material aid/relief should be given a priority! But in the interim, it’s also incumbent on us to keep looking for other creative methods that will help our people put of a fight against a deadly enemy!

Unisa Kanu
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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