Providing Care and Facing Death: Nursing During Ebola Outbreaks in Central Africa

Journal article from
Journal of Transcultural Nursing, Vol. 16 No. 4, October 2005 289-297 DOI: 310.1177/1043659605278935
© 2005 Sage Publications

Few studies have focused on describing the experiences of
health care workers during rapid killing epidemics. In this
article, the views and experiences of nurses during three outbreaks
of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) in Central Africa
are examined. These three outbreaks occurred in Kikwit,
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, 1995); Gulu, Uganda
(2000-2001); and Republic of Congo (ROC, 2003). Openended
and semistructured interviews with individuals and
small groups were conducted during the outbreaks in Uganda
and ROC; data from DRC are extracted from published
sources. Three key themes emerged from the interviews: (a)
lack of protective gear, basic equipment, and other resources
necessary to provide care, especially during the early phases
of the outbreaks; (b) stigmatization by family, coworkers, and
community; and (c) exceptional commitment to the nursing
profession in a context where the lives of the health care
workers were in jeopardy.

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