SA nurses fearless as they face Ebola

2015-01-19 20:48
(File: Sapa)

(File: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A South African nurse going to Sierra Leone to help combat the Ebola virus in West Africa said on Monday he is aware of the risks but not afraid.

Billy Nyaku, 31, from Limpopo, said he was aware that over 350 health care workers had died from Ebola in the region.

"I am aware of that but I am never scared at all, I am a soldier. It is about being compassionate about the helpless. Those people need our assistance," he said on the sidelines of a media briefing in Johannesburg.

"What did I study nursing for? This is a real opportunity for me to be part of the action because if I am not going there, I won't be part of history. I'm fearless."

He said he was privileged to be part of the first South African team to go to Sierra Leone.

South Africa will send a doctor and 10 nurses to the country, non-profit organisation Right to Care announced at the briefing.

Nyaku said his family was supportive, understood that anything could happen, but that it was something he needed to do.

He said it was important for South African health care professionals to have training, in case Ebola spread to the rest of Africa.

"If it comes to South Africa then we know we are here to help the people of South Africa."

Laura Mosiah, a 32-year-old nurse from Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, said this was a once in a lifetime experience.

"I am ready. It will be so beneficial. Even as a professional you will grow. If you are a doctor or a nurse or a paramedic, you have been called," she said.

"To be able to go there and make a difference in their lives is something I desire personally. My motivation in life is to be where I count the most. The purpose of life, I think, is to be able to give to people in their time of need."

She said ever since she heard of the Ebola outbreak she wanted to help, and urged other health workers to respond to the call.

Neo Mokane, a 28-year-old nurse from Soshanguve, said she was certain their safety would come first.

‘We have been prepared’

Mother of one, Mokane said she was excited and not worried because people had been cured of Ebola and she wanted to make a difference. Mokane had heard about Ebola from the media and read about it, but when she went to Johannesburg for training they "dismantled" the illness.

"We know about Ebola. We have been taught about that and obviously about the safety about a person. We have been prepared," she said.

"After yesterday's training. I have no fear at all. I know that I am going there to make a difference."

Chief medical officer at Right to Care, Pappie Majuba, said they had taken all necessary precautions to minimise risk.

"We are giving them intensive training and they are still going through more intensive training even before they see patients in Sierra Leone," he said.

Even though South Africa had no reported Ebola cases, the experience the team would gain would be valuable in fighting Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.

The group was expected to leave on Friday and would stay in Sierra Leone for eight weeks.

Majuba said there would be health care professionals tasked with monitoring the team daily.

Additional training and recruitment would take place on an ongoing basis to send additional doctors, nurses, and paramedics.

According to Right to Care, training was important because so far 678 health care workers had contracted Ebola and 382 had died from the disease.

On 15 January, the Associated Press reported that Sierra Leone had had 3 062 Ebola deaths during the current outbreak, which began in March. The three worst-affected countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

Read more on:    sierra leone  |  pretoria  |  west africa  |  ebola

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