Nurse Patient Muhindo Kamavu was one of four experienced Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health workers who were the first on the ground, alongside the Congolese Ministry of Health, to respond to the Ebola outbreak declared on August 1 in Mangina, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A veteran of this year’s previous Ebola outbreak in DRC’s Equateur province, Patient has now finished his work in Mangina and has headed to Butembo, where he is setting up the response for the positive cases diagnosed in the town of around one million people. Here, he describes his experience.
“On August 2, I received a call telling me Ebola had once again broken out in Congo and MSF were set to respond. Given that I have experience working with Ebola, they asked if I would be willing to come. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘I’m available. Let’s go.’ I was on a plane less than 48 hours later.
Our team of four experienced nurses arrived in Beni on August 4, and we headed straight to Mangina that afternoon, to the local health center that was at the epicenter of the outbreak. We knew we had to act fast. When we arrived, we saw that the center was overwhelmed. They were doing their best, but the patients were all together in one ward of the hospital and they weren’t properly isolated. Staff and visitors were coming in and out. Inside there were bins and medical equipment on the floor. A number of health staff were ill, and the number of patients was increasing each day.
This would be bad in a normal clinic, but during an Ebola outbreak, it’s dangerous. Without proper hygiene, health staff can easily get infected and then spread the virus to patients who visit the center for other treatment.