I touched an Ebola patient – Ghanaian doctor recalls traumatic experience in Liberia

With over 500 health workers dead from the Ebola scourge, Ghanaian volunteer Dr. Osei Poku recalls the moment after touching an Ebola patient fearing he could become another fatal statistic.

“The first day I saw a patient diagnosed with Ebola and I actually touched the patient….and this was a patient in an advanced stages, bleeding in mouth, nose, ears all IV punching sites I was terrified”

Despite wearing three gloves instead of the conventional two, Dr.Osei Poku still feared that his protective gloves and suits could fail in protecting him from the deadliest epidemic in recent times.

Dr. Osei Poku was part of Ghana’s 42-health personnel volunteer team dispatched to countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guniea where the tragic effects of Ebola was all too obvious.

The health workers who spent three months in Liberia and Sierra Leone were quarantined in Ivory Coast for 21 days to ensure they were free from the deadly virus.

But the moment in Liberia is seared in Dr. Osei Poku’s mind.

“I had a strong surge of feeling. I felt like tearing….for the next 21 days I was just monitoring myself. I didn’t know what to think” the father of two said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Thursday.

The sober-voiced doctor talked about how the epidemic has torn Liberia apart. Schools closed down, families were wiped out and health systems knocked off its foundations.

He recounted how he formed part of the Ghanaian team at a time when some health workers in the country had expressed fears that they will abandon their post if Ebola ever got reported at a health centre.

He said he was part of a regional taskforce committee in Ghana training health workers on how to prepare for Ebola if it was reported.

“It was all talk, very little practical experience”, he said until the opportunity came to go to Liberia after ECOWAS leaders agreed to send professional support to Ebola-affected countries.

Looking back he says it was an “honour” to have served in Liberia. He expressed gratitude to God for that opportunity.

“We went, we saw and by God’s grace we helped conquer and we are back”, the brave doctor said.

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Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]

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