Kiss of Life or Death-Ebola Decides What is Safe.

Rakesh Manchanda 

No! we are not talking about the fantasy world of Zombies and Horror. Ebola now after 40 years is real.It is global and not limited to Central and West Africa.

Can Ebola help families patch up and fight the crisis together?
Strange divisions are observed. Everybody in the affected area is a suspect. During simple symptoms of fever and headache a person is treated as a living time bomb. No clarity for early symptoms of Ebola is one cause of panic and confusion. This is the potential weakness of Ebola control plan initiated by World Health Organisation. Rumour mills have their own winds.

Gandhi who was called Mahatma after his return from Africa was a preacher of Love, Peace and non violence. His wonderful words “Where there is Love there is Life” are more pertinent now in West Africa-2014 fighting Ebola than at any other time.

Life and Love needs more to beat the bully Ebola. Prevention is the only cure as transmission eats more than 7000 lives and makes 17000 sick. End of the outbreak is not in sight as admitted by World Health Organisation and UN. New directive of WHO is that `Ebola survivors` must abstain from sex for 3 months. Indian Health Ministry has asked those travelling to India from Ebola-affected countries to carry a certificate stating that there is no evidence of the deadly virus in their body fluids. This is mandatory after an Indian cured of Ebola in Liberia was found to be carrying the virus in his semen at Delhi airport.

Zooming on the worst hit three West African `No Kissing` countries-Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and now Mali. The streets are still alive and kicking with trade. People try to avoid rubbing shoulders with the next person. Buses which were overloaded are now taking fewer people. The economy and survival has been hit hard. Some trades have closed down – no football matches, less bars and entertainment with lesser night clubs. Interaction with each other is minimised -no touching and no hugging. WHO message is clear the virus spreads only after the advance symptoms show up.

Husband-Wife are afraid to touch each other. Ebola has forced a division in the West African united family binding. No one trusts one another. Family warmth and party charm is missing. Mothers are afraid to hug and kiss and clean the body fluids when a child gets fever or diarrhoea. Schools stand closed and weddings are put on hold. The government of Ivory Coast has recently asked its residents to stop their customary `three-kiss` hello.

Many bites indicate doctors are overcharging. Rich go to hospitals and come back after few days of getting monitored. Poor dare not go to hospital and volunteer for Ebola test as they are convinced there is no cure. As per recent WHO directive, transmission of Virus by a suspect is not possible if the advance stage of symptoms is not seen on the Ebola Victim.

Change in West African Markets-Streets and Neighbourhood?
There is a state of Medical Emergency. Before Ebola, neighbourhood was like one big noisy single family with children playing. Today it is silent and self centred. Only sound of Ambulance siren in night is heard. Washing hands and taking a bath after daily home return is more frequent now. Food is heated up several times before eating. Outside eating has stopped since the outbreak.

Ebola fear is bringing a big change in the thinking process at least on clean toilets and hygiene of all inside and outside Africa. Global Governance needs to fill up the rich-poor gap with a fair wealth distribution in line with Mahatma Gandhi`s Principles.

Collective connectivity to protect safe life, humanity and love are getting ready.

About author: Worked in African countries since 2006 and had been supporting International Red Cross and few NGOs as volunteer on Basic and Advance Life Support.