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03 Aug 16 18 May 18

Podcast: I had to turn people away from the world's largest Ebola centre

"The first person I had to turn away was a father who had brought his sick daughter in the trunk of his car," says Pierre Trbovic.

"He was an educated man, and he pleaded with me to take his teenage daughter, saying that while he knew we couldn’t save her life, at least we could save the rest of his family from her. At that point I had to go behind one of the tents to cry. I wasn’t ashamed of my tears but I knew I had to stay strong for my colleagues – if we all started crying, we’d be in trouble."

 

Working in five countries in the last two years, from fighting cholera in South Sudan to helping migrants and refugees in Greece, it's fair to say Pierre Trbovic has seen his fair share of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders' (MSF) work.

 

According to Pierre, the hardest job he had to do as an MSF anthropologist and health promoter was stand on the gates of our ELWA 3 Ebola management centre in Monrovia, Liberia.

Pierre voluntarily took on the job of telling people suffering with the virus that, at the peak of the crisis in August/September 2014, our centre was full; many people had to be turned away.

In this episode of Everyday Emergency, we listen to an article written by Pierre for the Guardian, and hear from him about what compelled him to do the job.

Listen to the episode in the Soundcloud player above, or subscribe on your favourite podcast provider by searching for 'Everyday Emergency'.

More on Ebola and Liberia

This aerial footage shows the scale of ELWA 3, the Ebola management centre in which Pierre worked.

Facts and figures

In Liberia, MSF admitted 9,470 people to our Ebola management centres

  • We treated 5,170 patients confirmed with Ebola
  • 2,956 people died

ELWA 3, at its largest, had a capacity of 400 beds

In Sierra Leone, in 2014 alone:

  • 1,800 people admitted to Ebola management centres
  • 1,400 people confirmed having Ebola
  • 770 people recovered from Ebola and were discharged

In Guinea, in 2014 alone:

  • 3,100 patients admitted to Ebola management centres
  • 1,700 were confirmed having Ebola
  • 800 patients recovered from Ebola and discharged

Fourteen MSF staff lost their lives to Ebola across West Africa.

Find out more on our interactive Ebola timeline.

ELWA 3 photo timeline

Sissel Overvoll, a nurse from Norway poses with Matthew Doe, the first recovered patient to leave ELWA 3. He says it is like being “born again”.

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