No running water at Faji – Kunda Health Center amid Ebola threat

By Meita Touray

The major health centre in Faji-kunda is currently battling with water shortage at a time when institutions and some health centres are strengthening sanitary conditions to ensure an Ebola free environment.

Mr Robert Sambou, deputy officer-in-charge of the health centre, in an interview on Monday, said the ministry has provided them with self-protective gears such as gloves and facial masks in case they come across any suspected Ebola cases, but added that the major concern which is the water shortage at the health centre is yet to be addressed.

“We are battling seriously with water issues; we do not have running water as at now. Even before the advent of Ebola, we were trying to make sure that there is water here and the relevant authority knows that there is no water here, so it is very difficult with the advent of Ebola,” said Mr Sambou.

He said NAWEC is now the only supplier of water to the health facility after their water tank broke down, adding that some officials from NAWEC even came to fix the pipes but the condition still persists.

“Water is very crucial in healthcare delivery when it comes to infection control. We are working with Medical Research Council (MRC), they promised us a water tank, they have done the measurements already and now they are working on the logistics,” he disclosed.

Ramatoulie Jobe, a nurse at the Labour Ward, said the provision of hand washing disinfectant for the public may be expensive but added that soap which is cheaper can serve a similar purpose. She said hand washing can only be effective at their health centre if there is regular water supply.

A lady in her mid thirties, who preferred anonymity, said Faji-kunda health centre is known for its frequent water shortage. “I am a regular visitor of this health centre because I’m not far from here. There is only one public tap and it has not been constantly supplying water for a long time now,” she said.

Foroyaa had earlier published a story, on Friday 5th September to be precise, on the monitoring and safety measures to prevent Ebola and in which some of the people interviewed expressed their willingness to take precautionary measures such as hand washing at health facilities if it is provided. Regular hand washing, health officials said, reduces the spread of the Ebola virus.

Efforts to contact the NAWEC public relation officer (PRO) to shed light on the issue were not successful as he could not be reached on phone. However, Foroyaa will endeavour to talk to him to see how and when this issue will be addressed.

On the issue of the report that two people have entered the Gambia from Guinea Conakry, Mr. Sambou said the public health officers are engaged in surveillance and are monitoring the situation to see if anybody crossing is carrying the Ebola virus.

“The incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, during which the signs of the virus such as diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding through the nose, joint pain should surface, but if these do not surface within the 21 days, then the persons concern will be declared Ebola free, the surveillance will stop and they will continue their normal life,” he disclosed.

Awareness on Ebola is high

When his attention was drawn to report carried in the Foroyaa Newspaper on the reduction of the normal greeting practice of hand shaking in Banjul and whether this as a result of public awareness of the causes of Ebola, Mr. Sambou responded that he himself had not conducted any survey in that respect but expressed his belief that awareness on the issue is high.

“I think the level of public awareness is high, as one day while I was coming to the hospital, a colleague met me outside and wanted to shake my hands but I withdrew mine based on the fact that this practice should either be reduced or stopped because of Ebola,” said Mr. Sambou.

He said while this incident happened, someone who was around asked whether Ebola was actually in town and his response was that he did not know, but added: “this is one of the measures we can use to prevent ourselves and then we all laughed. A lady sitting beside us said “you people are laughing at a very serious disease”.”

Mr. Sambou said the example of this particular incident may not be sufficient to say that there is general public awareness on Ebola but that he can safely say that hand shaking has reduced even in homes.

According to reports; the deadly Ebola has claimed the lives of at least 2000 people in Western Africa. Since the outbreak of the virus in Guinea, countries in West Africa have strengthened surveillance at border posts to monitor the spread of the virus and take measures to prevent it.