Nurse sends update from Sierra Leone

Rebecca Stretch, CNWL’s Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control, flew to Kenema, Sierra Leone, two weeks ago (Friday 22 August) to help Ebola victims.

Rebecca, who also volunteered in Sierra Leone during the Civil War in 2000, is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to train people in hospitals on how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Rebecca, who managed to send an update from Kenema yesterday, said: “I am currently working with two doctors and two nurses from America. A lot of local nurses have been infected with Ebola and many have died so staffing is very limited and the conditions here are poor.”

Ebola is a severe, often fatal, disease. Latest figures estimate that over 1,300 people have died from Ebola in the current outbreak in West Africa. There are no cases in the UK.

Rebecca, originally from Carnforth in Lancashire, said: “The treatment hospital is overfull with patients arriving all the time and there are not enough beds for everyone. Babies and pregnant women are the most vulnerable. There are many children who have lost their whole family. However, on a positive note, eight patients were discharged yesterday and had fully recovered.”

When Rebecca first arrived she was the only infection control trained nurse in the region and travelled to review different treatment centres and to give advice on holding centres; where people wait for results, transit services and burial methods, as well as teaching the fundamentals in infection prevention and control.

Before departing for Sierra Leone, Rebecca said: “I think if somebody doesn’t help people there, then who will? We can’t just put a fence up and ignore the problem. It is dangerous but I am not reckless. It’s a huge problem but you can only deal with a small part of it. You come back feeling bad that you couldn’t do more.”

Rebecca will be sending regular updates when possible and will be in Sierra Leone for a month, returning to the UK in late September.

You can read more in Rebecca's blog.

Read more about Rebecca

Rebecca Stretch

Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control

Rebecca was born in Carnforth, Lancashire, and carried out her nursing training in Manchester. She has previously worked at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and specialises in communicable diseases.