Meet the Ballarat man in the midst of Africa's Ebola crisis

Jamie Bedson, from Ballarat, works for a volunteer group promoting sexual reproductive health in remote communities.

Jamie Bedson, from Ballarat, works for a volunteer group promoting sexual reproductive health in remote communities.

A BALLARAT man in the midst of Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak has dismissed concerns the deadly virus could reach Australia.

Jamie Bedson, who works for a volunteer group promoting sexual reproductive health in remote communities, said hysteria surrounding the spread of the disease was "frustrating".

"The thing is the real risk is people over here and the emphasis on whether it's going to come to a western country detracts away from the situation," he said

"What the international fear doesn't take into consideration is that it's health workers and family members who catch Ebola.

"If you are showing symptoms they would stop you getting on the plane."

Reports emerged this week that Australian health professionals were on the lookout for Ebola-like symptoms in patients who had travelled to West Africa. 

Official figures from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone, show 613 confirmed Ebola cases, across 13 districts, with almost 230 people dead from the disease.

Official figures from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone, show 613 confirmed Ebola cases, across 13 districts, with almost 230 people dead from the disease.

Official figures from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone, show 613 confirmed Ebola cases, across 13 districts, with almost 230 people dead from the disease.

"We had our lead doctor (Dr Sheik Umar Khan) die recently and he was the only urologist in the country," he said. 

"It's put a lot fear in the medical community ... a lot of doctors are refusing to treat people with Ebola."

The crisis, focused in two Eastern epicentres Kenema and Kailahun, was poorly understood by locals, Mr Bedson said.

"People believe it's a curse because there a traditional belief in witchcraft," he said. 

"Locals have traditional burial rituals where everyone touches the body and the best way to catch Ebola is to touch a dead body."

"It's put a lot fear in the medical community ... a lot of doctors are refusing to treat people with Ebola." - Jamie Bedson

Mr Bedson said poorly-resourced health workers were a major risk of contracting the disease.

"The reason it (Ebola) is a bit out of control here is the health system is in one of the poorest country's in the world and the government is under resourced," he said. 

He said there was a lot of fear that residual death of Ebola would be the big killer.

"No one wants to go to hospital, a lot of people over here die through childbirth, diarrhoea and Malaria," he said. 

Mr Bedson, a country director for Restless Development Sierra Leone, said his organisation was trying to raise funds raise awareness of Ebola in remote communities.

"Until people know that it's not witchcraft and it's something they need to be fearful of, it's going to continue travelling," he said.

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