Traditional medicine men in Guinea or guérisseurs as they're called there have said that had they been properly consulted in the Ebola outbreak response, Ebola would have become a thing of the past by now in Guinea.
According to a report by Reuters, Karamoko Ibrahima Fofana, president of the association of traditional healers in the town of Macenta, said guérisseurs have unique access to remote villages, as such they could have helped in spreading the message.
In his words:
"Guérisseurs are often the first port of call for the sick. We could have spread information on how to protect against Ebola or told people with symptoms to seek help in the treatment centres."
Rather, the traditional healers were sometimes accused of spreading the deadly virus, and for somewhat good reason too. In Sierra Leone, a guérisseurs' claim that she could cure Ebola drew the first Guinean victims across the border, leading to the spread of the diesease.
While Fofana admits the guérisseurs in his association didn't know what Ebola was at first, he reveals that after training from United Nations staff they're keen to spread information - and not the virus.
"If a guérisseur has been trained on Ebola and is then caught treating a suspected case, they are fined 50,000 GNF ($7), stripped of their membership and reported to the police," he shared with Reuters.
Ebola has infected more than 23,500 people in West Africa and killed over 9,500, nearly all in the three worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.