Friday, 1 August 2014

More On Witchcraft & Ebola

Not witchcraft. Ebola virus virion. (source)
A few weeks ago, I blogged about some articles describing how belief in the supernatural -- namely witchcraft -- in Ebola stricken western African countries is seriously hampering the fighting of this epidemic.

Well, I came across a more recent one, in which a British doctor, Benjamin Black, also points out how witchcraft belief and local religious burial customs are exacerbating an already dangerous situation.

Ebola outbreak: fight against disease hampered by belief in witchcraft, warns British doctor
In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Black, who completed a four-day stint earlier this week at an Ebola treatment clinic in Kailahun, near Sierra Leone’s northern border with Guinea, said: “There is a section of population here who simply don’t believe Ebola is real, they think it is witchcraft and so they don’t come to the treatment centres.

“Sometimes, even those who turn up at clinics with symptoms of the disease will be resistant to the idea that they have it. They will say 'yes, people in my family have died already, but this is witchcraft rather than Ebola’.”
I'm certain that not unlike people who believe in alternative medicine here in North America, people who are very sick likely turn to traditional healing first and waste very vital time -- except ebola is likely to be several orders of magnitude more serious than anything woo peddlers claim to be able to deal with here. Of course, it's possible people are dying having never gotten treated and the corpses of victims are particularly infectious while the funeral rites in these regions are notable for the high amount of physical contact with the deceased.
But doctors can go on certain warning signs, in particular patients saying that they have recently attended a funeral of a friend or relative. Local funeral customs often include the practice of touching and kissing loved ones’ bodies, which by that stage are a prime incubator of Ebola

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