Expert Author Olachi Amah

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. But people have replaced God who is bigger than anything we can think of, to Ebola; "the fear of Ebola is the beginning of wisdom". Some people are even contented with having H.I.V, seeing it as a favor, because it is believed that Ebola is more deadly, considering the symptoms and the rate of transmission. You can see two best friends who were so close to each other; the moment one of them is struck with the deadly disease, they don't see eye-to-eye anymore. Fear and stigma are often common human reactions to a disease, in particular when it comes to Ebola, a highly infectious disease which can spread quickly and for which there is no known cure.

In Guinea and Nigeria, West African countries, which are currently experiencing a rampant spread of Ebola cases, fear and stigma related to the disease are becoming increasingly visible. Many residents are limiting their movements, refusing to venture too far from their homes. Survivors of Ebola who have had family members die, also suffer from stigma. Even after they recover and are discharged, the community still believe they have contracted the Ebola virus and do not want them in their markets, in their houses or places of worship. Many people, such as Mariam Camara, a market vendor in Conakry, said they are reluctant to associate with anyone who has been or may be infected. She said, "At first they told us it was not a curable disease. Then, after some time, we also learned that there are people who are cured of it. But me personally, when there are people who are cured, I am still scared." She said, "It truly frightens me. A sickness that kills people indiscriminately, without a cure - that is not reassuring in my opinion. So I am frightened."

Avoiding direct contact with people carrying the Ebola virus is one of the key measures used to reduce the spread of the disease. But this also has a negative effect as people who suffer from other severe illnesses like malaria are sometimes admitted into isolation as a precaution. But when they recover and are discharged, the community still believes they were actually being treated for Ebola and could still be contagious. Fear of being marginalized or isolated may also cause people to conceal their illness which can lead to increase in the rate of transmission. God can heal all manner of diseases. It is unfortunate that this came up, but it is our duty to welcome and support those that were able to survive it, back into our communities and let them know how much God loves them.

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