Witnesses Horrors Of Ebola In Sierra Leone


Alex Crawford witnesses first-hand the desolation and despair caused by Ebola in the remotest parts of Sierra Leone.





A man is left lying on a hospital floor for five days, unfed and unaided.

He went to the district hospital in Kono hoping for help, only to be abandoned in an empty ward by the small number of nursing staff.

They feared he had Ebola.

When our team arrived the man was dead.

No-one had even found out his name.

Our journalists were about to discover that his story was not an isolated one in remote parts of the worst-affected country.

In Kono, the outbreak raged unchecked for weeks.

The hospital has 185 beds.

It was clear the sick do not like coming to the hospital. They are terrified of catching the virus.



The cleaner – who told  she gained experience during Sierra Leone’s civil war – decided to use the remaining two bottles of medicine in their stocks to kick-start the labour.

But shortly after the injections, Aminata had a fit and fell unconscious.

Her mother-in-law was distraught. She hadn’t wanted to come to the hospital at all.

Nearly three hours later, a nursing assistant arrived, but her gloves were poor quality and tore as she put them on.

She knew that two colleagues in the same maternity unit died last week. Again, our reporters offered their spares.

Finally the teenager woke in agony. Brutal pressure was being applied to her womb.

The heat that was exacerbated by the protective clothing proved too much for the hospital cleaner, who collapsed.

But amidst the fainting and fear, the cry of the newborn baby boy lifted everyone.

He was named Emmanual, and those who witnessed his birth were delighted.

But the feeling was tinged by fear, because Emmanual had become the latest Ebola suspect, and if he carried the virus, he could end up killing scores of others.

Help for Kono district is arriving. The British military’s part of the task force are delivering urgently needed medical supplies that would normally perish during the eight-hour bumpy ride to the eastern border.



But for many communities in this remote part of the country, the help has come too late. Until this week, Kono had no Ebola treatment centre or testing facility.

Our team met a woman called Bansaraty. She told them she was feverish and weak but did not want to go to hospital.

She was fearful of the men in white suits, who had to spend a lot of time reassuring her they had come to help.

Her neighbours believed she had Ebola and wanted her out.

Finally, she was persuaded to leave.

She had to travel dozens of miles to nearby Kanema district to get tested for Ebola. It came back negative but days after coming home to Kono, she fell ill again.

They feel very far away from the capital Freetown where government resources have been directed and where charities and aid agencies are operating in their dozens.

One woman told us: “We are crying out to the government, so we can have more pressure that Ebola should be eradicated from our nation.”

The Ebola recovery team left Bansaraty’s house unsecured and exposed, much to the disgust of the villagers.

Kono has been free of Ebola since September: now they feel as vulnerable as ever.