fighting ebola Marcus Dipaola/ZumaPress

Sierra Leone zet de knop om

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE – Ik werkte als jonge arts bij de eerste hulp van het Ola During Kinderziekenhuis in Sierra Leone, toen ik de moeder van een kind met ernstige malaria adviseerde zich van een schaamteloze leugen te bedienen. Haar dochter Mariama had een levensreddende bloedtransfusie nodig, maar haar moeder had geen geld om voor de screening tests te betalen en de bloeddonor te compenseren. Ik had al veel kinderen zien sterven terwijl hun ouders verwoed op zoek waren naar de noodzakelijke fondsen.

Vastbesloten om Mariama's leven te redden zei ik tegen de moeder dat ze naar huis moest gaan om de dood van haar dochter aan te kondigen. Ik wist dat dit de sympathie van haar familieleden zou opwekken en dat ze hun magere middelen bijeen zouden schrapen om een fatsoenlijke begrafenis te kunnen garanderen. De moeder ging akkoord en toen ze zes uur later terugkwam, had ze genoeg geld bij zich voor de hele behandeling van Mariama: een bloedtransfusie, een therapie tegen malaria en een wormenkuur. Een paar dagen later kon ik het nog steeds zwakke, maar aan de beterende hand zijnde kind van vier uit het ziekenhuis ontslaan.

Terwijl de ziekte van Mariama haar familieleden niet tot actie aanzette, deed haar aangekondigde dood dat wel. Hetzelfde is op veel grotere schaal gebeurd tijdens de Ebola-epidemie in West-Afrika.

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