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Churches in DRC playing a vital role in preventing spread of Ebola

by Cara Bentley

Tearfund's programme director in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hebdavi Muhindo, is Congolese said the Ebola outbreak is now a crisis sitaution, with infection rates increasing and people dying.

Ebola is a virus that destroys cells and acts quickly by attacking the immue system. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and bleeding but it can be prevented and sometimes stopped.

The first case of this outbreak was found in August last year, but Hebdavi Muhindo said there are signs of hope. 

He said: "The church is playing a very crucial role, a very important role, and Tearfund is working with a church in eastern DRC to sensitise the community.

"One of the main ways to stop this virus is by taking hygiene measures, washing your hands as well avoiding contact body contact, like changing some social norms, not greeting each other with the hand - just saying 'hi' with your voice. The church is doing a lot of psychosocial support to the people who are affected by the virus

"And while people have lost faith in other institutions... people still trust their faith leaders and that's how the work that Tearfund is doing, together with the local church, is really helping to stop the spread of the disease."

Mr Muhindo described how he recently met a woman who only knew that she had Ebola symptoms because she had heard the warnings at church:

"She's a young lady who is only 17 years old but she was saying [a] big thank you to Tearfund because she was able to hear the message about the virus on time.

"She got infected, she was able to notice immediately that 'the symptoms I'm having could be symptoms of Ebola', she sought medical help on time and because she sought medical help on time, she was able to get healed.

"She came out of the treatment centre, one of the rare people who get healed from this disease, and she was like 'Wow, if I had not known the preventive measures, if I had not known the symptoms on time, maybe I would not be healed'. So yes, that's that's how the church is affecting, telling people, passing the message and people are able to to be healed."

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