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Contact Tracers Save Lives in Sierra Leone

 25 year-old woman Hassanatu Kanu contracted the deadly Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) in Mabora village, Port Loko District, Sierra Leone. Port Loko District is in the Northern province and is 120 km north of the capital, Freetown.

In August 2014 Hassanatu’s mother died of Ebola in another village and she attended the funeral. As a contact of a positive Ebola case, Hassanatu was immediately line listed by Chiefdom Supervisor Hassan Kamara even before she returned to her village. When Hassanatu returned to Mabora village UNFPA trained Contact Tracer, Abass Kargbo, was assigned to monitor her for a period of 21 days. Two days later, Hassanatu informed Abass that she felt pain in her joints. Immediately, Mr. Kamara informed the District Health Management Team (DHMT) and her blood specimen was taken and tested. The result was positive and she was taken to the Ebola Isolation Unit at the Kenema Government Hospital on the 10th of August, 2014.

During her hospitalisation, Hassanatu stated that her blood specimen was tested four times. Her diet consisted of soup and water. When asked how her morale was, she stated that there was a nurse name Tenneh who saw her daily. Hassanatu said that Nurse Tenneh would come in and say to her, “Jog for me.” She said that the nurse would make her laugh and lift her spirits. She looked forward to those visits from Nurse Tenneh and wanted to thank her for that invaluable kindness.

On the 2nd of September, 2014, Hassantu was discharged from the Kenema Government Hospital. She was given discharge Ebola counseling and she returned to Mabora village and resides with her grandmother.

In her community, the residents have labeled her a witch and they believe that she possesses unnatural powers. Hassanatu Kanu contracted EVD. Hassanatu survived the deadly disease. Hassanatu did not die and her community believes that anyone who contracts the deadly disease will surely die. When asked why she did not die, Hassanatu responded, “Early detection and treatment is why I did not die and my Mom did.”