After Ebola, Africans shun herbal medicines

‘Traditional medicines couldn’t stop the deadly virus from killing 50 people – a third of the population – in Kumala, ManMansaray’s small village in the north. “I used to believe that Ebola was something that can be cured by our herbalists here,” said Mansaray, 50, a farmer. “But when I saw what Ebola did in Kumala village … I changed my thought all together.” He said the victims included one of the herbalists and his wife, a secret society chief.

‘Secret societies that preserve ancient African traditions have been a pillar of Sierra Leone’s culture, but are losing credibility because doctors have convinced people like Mansaray that modern medicine, not ancient rites, will conquer Ebola.

‘The shift is a one example of how the Ebola has changed Sierra Leone, which continues to record new cases – five in the week through Sept. 13, according to the World Health Organization…

‘People don’t shake hands, they avoid large gatherings, refrain from sex if a partner might have come in contact with the virus and obsessively wash their hands at public sanitation stations as part of a national campaign to fight Ebola.

‘Abandoning traditional African beliefs about healing methods could be the most radical social shift wrought by the virus.’

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