Equateur Province, DRC- One of the tasks of the Africa CDC Volunteers is to support the response to the Ebola Virus disease in DRC's Equateur Province through contact tracing. Contact of follow-up is conducted for 21 days. Dr Sambu Bijoux, an Africa CDC volunteer deployed in the Itipo Health Area, was entrusted with 24 contacts to follow-up including Mr Bravo, a renowned traditional practitioner from the village of Bongila.
Every morning Dr Sambu begins her round of contacts. She daily checks for basic information about their health such as temperature using a thermo flash, which uses laser technology to avoid contact with the patient. Mr Bravo's follow-up began on 29 May 2018 and was supposed to end after 21 days on 19 June 2018. But on the sixth day of follow-up, Dr Sambu noticed that Mr Bravo was no longer at home.
After spending several hours in the contact's house without any information about him, Dr Sambu decided to go back to the base. The next day, an active search of the missing follow up contact was launched. Dr Sambu requested support from the Community Relay, a system of local auxillaries from the community. The suspected patient was not found within a radius of more than 100 km. The active search seemed to have failed. In similar cases like this, many others would have given up.
Not willing to abandon the case, and after searching in the villages of; Itipo I and II, Manga, Bonde, Bonsele I and II, Bomputu, B.Buna ,Ikunde, Ependie, Wamba and Mapeke, the search finally ended when Dr Sambu found Mr Bravo in the village of Wala on June 07, 2018.
Mr Bravo explained that he escaped his village out of fear of stigmatisation. But his fear was still present because even in Wala, people considered him extremely dangerous because he wss a contact of a confirmed Ebola patient. However, the follow-up sessions with Dr Sambu resumed.
Contacts are supported by counselling and educational sessions for the local populations of Bongila. Very quickly, Dr Sambu ensured the reintegration of Bravo with the inhabitants of the village. After his follow-up, Mr Bravo was brought back to his village and reintegrated.
Every day, Africa CDC volunteers work alongside the Congolese government and all partners involved in the response to Ebola outbreak in Equateur province.
* The name of the follow up contact has been changed to protect his identity.
* Story by Silas Belepe in Equateur Province, DRC
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