10 September 2014
Ebola: SOS mother dies in Liberia
SOS mother from Juah Town contracted virus while visiting a sick relative outside of SOS premises. No SOS children or SOS villages were exposed, but SOS Children's Villages in Liberia remain on high alert and are taking strict precautions. SOS Medical Centre continues to serve Monrovia community non-stop.
10 September 2014 – Staff and children from SOS Children's Villages in Liberia are mourning the loss of an SOS mother, who worked at the SOS Children’s Village in Juah Town. She died from the Ebola virus on 28 August.
The SOS mother had travelled from Juah Town to Liberia’s capital of Monrovia to help care for her adult biological daughter. It is believed that she contracted Ebola from her biological daughter, who did not realize at the time that she had the virus. Both mother and daughter died from Ebola within days.
“It was a shock for us," said George Kordahi, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia. “We are devastated by this news and offer our condolences to her extended family and others who were close to her.”
Mr Kordahi emphasised that the SOS mother never returned to the SOS children’s village after catching the virus. "Since she did not return to the children's village in Juah Town after visiting her biological daughter, we can rule out an infection of our children," assured Mr Kordahi.
Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, houses in the SOS children’s villages in Juah Town and Monrovia were professionally disinfected by a team from the SOS Medical Centre.
The SOS mother was the first SOS staff member in any country affected by the current Ebola outbreak to contract the virus. SOS Children's Villages in Liberia employs around 250 staff in total, including 70 in the SOS Medical Centre, which is one of the largest hospitals in Monrovia.
As she was about to retire in February 2015, an SOS aunt was already preparing to take her place as SOS mother to the children in her care.
The village director of SOS Children’s Village Juah Town, a trained counsellor, is currently helping the children she cared for deal with the sudden loss of their SOS mother.
"Our children are safe"
"The children's villages in Liberia are safely protected from the virus" said Mr Kordahi. For months movement outside the SOS children’s villages in Liberia has been restricted, and anyone coming or leaving must thoroughly wash and disinfect themselves.
Since the outbreak began, the SOS children have only been allowed to play within the walls of the children's villages, which have also been equipped with extra hand-washing stations. "They were looking forward to the start of school to meet their friends again. Instead, they are now facing an indefinite waiting period, during which they may not leave the SOS Children's Village", Mr Kordahi reported.
Like all schools in Liberia, SOS Children’s Villages schools and kindergartens closed indefinitely some weeks ago to protect the children and reduce chances of infection. “We are relying on SOS mothers to fill the gap in the best way possible” Mr Kordahi said, adding that SOS Children’s Villages will provide school materials within the family homes until the situation is clear.
SOS Medical Centre supports community 24/7
Meanwhile, the SOS Medical Centre in Monrovia is running non-stop and at full capacity. It is the only medical clinic in Monrovia that is operating 24 hours per day. Many of Liberia’s public hospitals have been forced to close because doctors and staff were infected with Ebola, or have stopped working out of fear of contagion. "Our clinic accepts patients around the clock and our employees are working to exhaustion", Mr Kordahi said.
Although the SOS clinic does not treat Ebola – confirmed cases must be referred to designated Ebola treatment centres – it is one of the few medical facilities in Monrovia that is still able to assist the community with other medical needs. Doctors and nurses at the SOS Medical Centre wear full body personal protective equipment (PPE) suits to protect themselves in case of contact with patients infected with Ebola.
Ebola has taken the lives of more than 2,200 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria since the outbreak began in December 2013. The virus has a mortality rate of 50 to 90 percent. The mortality rate of the current outbreak is reported to be around 53 percent.