IRPfellows, Mozambique — Nov 4, 2014

(No) Ebola in Mozambique

Ebola isn’t in Mozambique or anywhere near it. (See map.) Neither is the hysteria.

As the United States works itself into a full-blown panic attack, the reaction here has been muted. Despite daily visits to hospitals and clinics, I’ve heard very few people mention it. Some health professionals have been reluctant to discuss Ebola precisely because it has become so politicized.

A community radio station in Xai Xai said it would host a call-in session with doctors to answer questions about Ebola next week. I’ve also seen a few informational signs posted at healthcare facilities, but that’s about it.

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“Facts about Ebola: You can’t get Ebola through air. You can’t get Ebola through water. You can’t get Ebola through food. You can get Ebola from touching bodily fluids of a person who is sick or died from Ebola, or from exposure to contaminated objects such as a sick person’s dirty clothes, needles, etc. Call ‘Hello Life’ for more information.”

This one emphasizes that the disease is caused by a virus, not witchcraft:

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“Together, we can prevent Ebola. Fact: Ebola is caused by a virus. Myth: Ebola is caused by witchcraft. Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of a sick person: blood, urine, semen, feces, saliva, vomit, and sweat. Ebola is not transmitted through the air. If you don’t have a fever, you don’t have Ebola. A person who survives Ebola cannot transmit the virus. If you have a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, go immediately to the nearest health clinic. People who go to a health clinic early will have a better chance of surviving.”

Panicking about a disease in West Africa seems far more ludicrous in a country where mosquitos, sex, and breathing put people at risk of malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis on a daily basis. A little perspective goes a long way in prioritizing what to worry about.