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Woman saves Three Family Members from Ebola - Utilizing Common Materials as Personal Protective Equipment

Woman saves three family members from Ebola by protecting herself by meticulously covering herself with layers of trash bags and wearing lots of clothing. This is an example of where we can use commonly available items to design PPE that can suit most West Africans who do not have the same equipment as those in hospitals.

Photo of Elaine Mau
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Summary:
Woman saves three family members from Ebola by protecting herself by meticulously covering herself with layers of trash bags and wearing lots of clothing. This is an example of where we can use commonly available items to design PPE that can suit most West Africans can create and who do not have the same equipment as those in hospitals.

Learnings:
1. You don't have to use hospital grade materials or a white space suits and goggles to prevent transmission of Ebola.
2. She was very diligent and never cut corner when protecting herself.
3. There still are mis-diagnosed cases of Ebola (even in hospitals) and those who may be infected may not know they are.

Inspiration
1. People are forced to take matters into their own hands and into their own homes when hospitals are not an option.
2. We can use commonly available items to create effective solutions (and basic nursing skills) to save people and protect yourself.
 
http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/25/health/ebola-fatu-family/

5 comments

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Photo of Les LaMotte

Good information Elaine, it is always best to think first and use what is available. I was able to save the lives of 10 children with water borne fever by bring just a few bottles of Tylenol with me to a remote village in South Sudan in 2009 at the very small cost of about $1 per child administered by their mothers.

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Photo of Rainer Winkler

There should be more people like here who cared at home, the experiences should be collected, so that others can learn from this.

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Photo of Jesse Alexander

I like the use of locally/readily available equipment. I'd love to see an instructional video created with her and some documentation (preferably opensource) that can be shared accross the multiple languges in the region. The documentation should be heavy on pictures (actual photos would be best) and be sharable in print as well as on mobile devices. It should be easy enough to follow to allow family members to render care until professional care can be provided. I believe this young nurse's success can be replicated and used as a medical force multiplier.

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Photo of Jess Jaime

Fascinating! As one of the other posts points out, 75% of Ebola victims are women (https://openideo.com/challenge/fighting-ebola/research/caregivers-are-the-most-at-risk-for-ebola), with caregivers at greatest risk. If we were to create a visual as you suggest (say a website and accompanying pamphlet), would there be an outlet for the information in a place that caregivers (predominantly women) would have easy access to?

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Photo of Grace Hoerner

This is very inspiring! It reveals the importance of considering the informal caretakers who are also highly vulnerable in addition to more formal health care workers. What other commonly available materials besides trash bags could potentially be used to help protect these people?