I caught up with Juliet again this evening. She sounded much better. Rested. There was still a sadness in her voice that was hard to ignore. She is doing better than I would in her situation with 2.5 weeks left in isolation. I think I would have gone slightly mad with nothing much to do except read, watch movies, or surf the internet. And she has a family waiting for her.
For a while I didn’t really know what to talk about, so we talked for a long time about silly, everyday things like whether or not I had a boyfriend, the weather, the kids, work. After a while our conversation drifted to Sierra Leone. Not the horror of all the death, it was still too raw. Too fresh. Instead we talked about the local health care workers. Their courage in dealing with people from their communities. Their unfailing support of victims. Watching exhausted as everyday more people succumbed to the virus. Juliet was impassioned about the disparity of treatment between international aid workers and them.
International aid workers are evacuated to Europe or the US. Local health care workers are treated locally, sometimes in facilities purpose built by the US and the EU. For a long time there was nothing. And while lessons have been learnt and shared about the care of patients (electrolytes and intravenous hydration) the death rate of local workers is still higher.
It seemed to me, after reading the papers yesterday, that without the guarantee of evacuation, the flow of much needed international volunteers would stop. Doctors and nurses would choose not to go. I’m not sure that even if there was the option for the locals to be evacuated that they would take it. In their shoes I would want to stay somewhere that I was familiar with, where by my family was close by. So given the choice, I’m not sure I would want to be evacuated.