Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) resumed activities yesterday in an Ebola treatment center in Macenta, southeastern Guinea, after suspending work on April 4 following protests by a section of the local population.
After the suspension of activities, the patients in the center were treated by Ministry of Health staff, but MSF is now able to return and offer additional medical and technical support in the fight against the disease.
"Several days of negotiations with local and regional authorities, youth leaders, and village elders have ended successfully, and we have been assured that we can continue our work safely," said Corinne Benazech, MSF head of mission in Guinea.
MSF has responded to a number of Ebola outbreaks over the last 15 years and has experienced similar challenges in the past, including local protests in Uganda and Gabon during Ebola outbreaks.
"We fully understand the fears of the local community," Benazech said. "There had been no Ebola cases in Guinea before the current outbreak, and seeing our workers in the protective dress must be quite shocking for people who are not used to it."
In addition to Macenta, MSF is currently caring for Ebola patients in a newly expanded center in the capital Conakry, as well as in Gueckedou, another location in the southeast of the country. There are currently four patients in the center in Conakry, three in Macenta and three in Gueckedou.
"Ensuring that populations know about and understand the disease is key, and we will continue our dialogue with all local communities where we work," said Benazech. "However, there is clearly more work to be done and we need other health actors to undertake more of this activity as we are focused on identifying and caring for patients as well as tracing the people they have been in contact with."
An MSF team arrived Thursday in neighboring Liberia to assist the Ministry of Health there following the confirmation of positive cases in the north of the country.