How Does the Ebola Outbreak Affect Job Opportunities in Africa?

As reports of the Ebola virus continue to be released in West Africa and even the United States, many of those considering job opportunities in Africa may be concerned about how this outbreak affects health and safety of those working in or near affected areas.

In fact, as concerns reach a potential panic, many are afraid to venture out to any part of Africa in case there is even a remote risk of infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers Ebola a severe disease, with a mortality rate that is about 50% in infected areas. Unlike flu, colds and even autoimmune disorders such as HIV/Aids, Ebola can ONLY be transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids or blood of an infected person. As it is not airborne, or spread through food or water, the risk of getting sick from this disease is far lower than media shock reports would have us believe.

In the United States, the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has issued a Warning, Level 3 notice for its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to affected areas. These areas are limited to West Africa, and include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A separate, controlled outbreak was also reported in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), and in Nigeria there have also been reported outbreaks. For these cases, the CDC has issued an Alert, Level 2 notice to maintain caution when traveling to these areas.

If you are pursuing job opportunities in Africa and you will be stationed within West Africa, it does not mean that you will automatically be at risk. Even if you are working within or close to affected areas, you can stay safe by following a few basic precautions. Making sure your vaccinations are up to date before leaving, keeping a well-stocked first-aid and medical supply kit, and knowing which healthcare options are available in your area where you will be working are some ways to prepare.

Staying Safe and Healthy on Job Opportunities in Africa
Other tips to keep in mind when travelling to or near Ebola areas for job opportunities in Africa include the following:

  • Wash your hands often with an alcohol-based cleanser, and avoid contact with bodily floods or blood of any person (whether or not they are visibly sick). Avoid handling any items that have been in contact with a sick person’s blood or bodily fluid too.
  • Avoid touching or handling bats or primates such as chimpanzees, monkeys and apes, do not touch any blood or bodily fluids from these animals and do not eat or touch any raw meat prepared from any of these animals either, as they are known transmitters of the virus.
  • Avoid medical and health facilities in Ebola outbreak zones that have patients being treated for the virus. Wherever possible, find alternative facilities that have a reduced risk of exposure. Even though many hospitals are taking measures to contain the virus, it becomes harder when facilities are busy and understaffed or underequipped.
  • After returning from jobs in West Africa, pay extra attention to your health and be on the lookout for any flu-like symptoms that may occur. It can take up to 21 days for symptoms to show, and as they are much like flu, symptoms such as headaches, fever, muscle pain, fatigue and stomach problems should never be ignored. Seek medical attention immediately if any of those symptoms occur.
  • Tell your doctor that you have been to an area that may be associated with Ebola risk – especially if you have been in contact with any body fluids, animals or Ebola treatment facilities or burial grounds. By informing your doctor before going to a hospital emergency room or going home or into work, you can ensure that any possible risk will be contained.

Keeping abreast of all Ebola alerts and reports is also important. Staying safe and healthy is the primary concern of any recruiter or employer for workers seeking job opportunities in Africa, and as such, placement will always be done in accordance with international safety regulations that are designed to protect workers against such risks.