Meet Alfouseyni Dicko, a Red Cross volunteer who traced and identified an Ebola case in Mali

Published: 30 December 2014 10:57 CET

By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

Alfouseyni Dicko is 35. He is married and has four children, three girls and one boy. He has been volunteering with the Mali Red Cross since 2009 and had been active in many emergency operations, providing support to people affected by food crises, cholera, flooding and conflict.

“I cannot sit idly while my community is suffering,” says Dicko. “The Red Cross gives me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

When the Ebola outbreak was confirmed in neighbouring Guinea, Dicko was among the 580 volunteers the Mali Red Cross trained to conduct preparedness activities. Now, as Ebola has affected his country, he is part of the 74 selected volunteers trained on contact tracing and mobilized to follow 288 people who came into contact with an old man who died from Ebola in Bamako.

“I first monitored the man’s family of around 50 people, for 21 days, the incubation period of Ebola, to ensure any resulting cases were quickly identified, isolated and treated. After they have been cleared, I join another team to follow another family comprising of 42 people,” explains Dicko.

It was while he was monitoring the second family that Dicko realized Yacouba, a young man of 18 years, had a temperature of 40 degrees Celcius and looked very tired. He informed his supervisor, but before a medical team could arrive to transfer him to the Ebola treatment centre (ETC), Yacouba asked his friend to carry him there.

“Yacouba was frightened to contract Ebola as his half-brother and his mother have died from the disease. By going himself to the ETC, Yacouba was also scared to be stigmatized by his neighbours,” says Dicko.

Once at the ETC, Yacouba’s test for Ebola was positive. He was hospitalized and benefited from early treatment. After spending 16 days, he finally beat Ebola and became the second patient in Mali to recover from this terrifying disease.

“I was so happy that Yacouba was quickly identified and treated early. This has helped to avoid another wave of infections,” says Dicko

Yacouba has now been released, and Dicko has phoned him as the two have become fast friends. “I will go to visit soon,” says Dicko, smiling, “but this time without my thermometer.”