The chief medical officer at Partners In Health, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, was in Monrovia, Liberia, last week and at this week’s CDC training.
WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with Dr. Mukherjee and asked about reports of Ebola deaths happening in the streets of some west African communities.
JM: You see that in isolated areas, maybe in one neighborhood of the city or maybe in one village. I mean, the city itself looks like a normal African city. It’s bustling. People are going to work. They’re in the market. So you don’t see sickness everywhere you go, but there is a sense of foreboding. At every major public building and private building, such as a government hospital or a private hotel, there’s a hand-washing station outside. No one is shaking hands; people will just bump elbows and stand at their requisite couple of meters away from one other. So you do see the presence of the fear and the infection control that people are trying to do, but you don’t right now see this kind of rampant death.
SP: When you talked about infection control like hand-washing stations, is that accompanied by a lot of either billboards or public service announcements that get the word out that people need to try to follow certain protocols so it won’t spread even more?
JM: Yes, there’s a lot of public education campaigns going on, a lot of posters. When you use your cell phone a message comes up about Ebola. Initially there was a lack of acceptance about Ebola even being real, so a lot of the education is about that, but I think it’s less about that now than just trying to instruct people how to stay as safe as possible.