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Holloway medic travels to Sierra Leone to help tackle deadly Ebola

09:53 02 September 2014

Rebecca Stretch

Rebecca Stretch

Archant

A Holloway woman is risking her life by travelling to west Africa to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

Rebecca Stretch, who specialises in the prevention and control of infectious diseases for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, travelled to Kemena in Sierra Leone last month to teach people in hospitals how to deal with the spread of the virus which has so far killed more than 1,500 people.

Rebecca volunteered in Sierra Leone in 2002 during the Civil War in the country, and is putting her self in harms way again to help others.

But she says she was more afraid to tell her family than she is of contracting the disease.

Rebecca, originally from Carnforth in Lancashire, said, “I was more worried about telling my family about this trip than the trip itself.

“They will worry about me. But my main interest is communicable diseases – it’s what I’m trained in.

“For me, this is the equivalent of training as a footballer and then being ‘called up’ to play in the biggest tournament.

“I know that will sound odd to people. I can’t really explain it – but it’s what I am trained to do.”

Ebola is transmitted from person-to-person by direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with the disease.

Rebecca plans to use her expertise to stop the disease, and says she feels duty bound because of her knowledge, to help.

“I think if somebody doesn’t help people there, then who will?” She said.

“We can’t just put a fence up and ignore the problem. It is dangerous but I am not reckless.

“I think I will be safe but things can go wrong even if you take the right precautions.

“Last time I went to Sierra Leone it was one of the most dangerous places on earth and I couldn’t go as far east as Kemena as it was too unsafe.

“This time is different – it is not a case of people purposefully harming people but a disease and all the suffering that brings.

“The last thing you’ll feel like when you get home is a hero“

Rebecca will be in Sierra Leone for a month.

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