Pestilence Update

Ebola crisis: Witchcraft warning amid NEW arson attacks on MSF centres

Blog note. Jesus indicated that ‘fearful sights’ (various natural disasters) would occur leading up to the time known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (a combined seven year period of great destruction on earth). Although these types of things have occurred in the past for centuries and thousands of years, they could be identified as the ‘season of the times’ due to the ferociousness of these events. They would be occurring in greater intensity, severity, frequency, size, duration, scope … just like the pains that a woman experiences in labor the farther along she is in the labor process. We are in the ‘season of the times’ that comes just before the seven (7) year Tribulation/Great Tribulation period
… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).
… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)
… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)
… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains that occur in greater severity, frequency, size and duration prior to giving birth. End of note.

Ebola crisis: Witchcraft warning amid NEW arson attacks on MSF centres

A WIDESPREAD belief in – and fear of – witchcraft is thought to be hampering the efforts of health workers trying to tackle the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


PUBLISHED: 07:00, Sat, Mar 9, 2019 | UPDATED: 06:59, Mon, Mar 11, 2019

Phillips Stevens, from the University at Buffalo, made his remarks in the wake of the arson attacks on the facilities in the towns of Katwa and Butembo. Meanwhile World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus  has reiterated his commitment to efforts to stopping the outbreak after visiting one of the facilities attacked. Both areas were run by international aid organisation Medecins San Frontieres (MSF), which has now suspended its activities in both areas.

Professor Stevens, who is the university’s Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, emphasised he was not commenting specifically on the MSF incidents – but told “Throughout history and all around the world, beliefs in witchcraft intensify during times of general social anxiety – anxiety over anything perceived as threatening our welfare, anything with economic, political/military, geographic/environmental, or supernatural cause.”

In such circumstances people tended to look for a human cause, he said, adding: “A fundamental fact of social living is that tensions and hostilities develop among people living in close proximity to each other, and it easier to blame another person than oneself, or a supernatural being.

“Both sorcery and witchcraft are believed real in most parts of Africa today.

“Traditional societies had a variety of sanctions, depending on the severity of the case.

“European colonial powers established laws against witchcraft, mirroring the laws in their own countries, some of which were holdovers from medieval times.

“In the colonies sorcery/witchcraft was a crime, subject to judicial proceeding. After independence some of these laws have been repealed and not replaced, because they are marks of “primitive” beliefs that people want to leave behind.

“So, often victims have no legal recourse; and legal authorities have no clear guidelines to control angry mobs conducting local witch hunts.”

Prof. Stevens said wherever there was a belief in witchcraft, there was consequently a belief in traditional “remedial mechanisms” ranging from counter-acting to purification and protection, which could prevent such mobs taking the law into their own hands.

He explained: “In my experience these should be employed first, to convince the victim within his/her own cultural system that the evil has been removed.

“This is why the traditional ‘witch doctor’ can be successful, where the western doctor is probably not. Denying the reality of the belief is rarely successful.

“Efforts to change peoples’ thinking, in effect to change their reality, must be carefully planned, after an understanding of the peoples’ concepts of cause and effect has been achieved.”

To complicate matters, traditional beliefs could also co-exist with an understanding of modern science, he stressed, citing the example of a male schoolteacher who had told South African social anthropologist Monica Wilson he understood a typhus was caused by a microbe which was carried by a louse, but suggested sorcery could direct the louse to bite one person and not the person next to him or her.

He added: “The CDC and WHO and USAID and other similar agencies know this, and that’s why they employ anthropologists in situations involving disruptive cultural intervention, especially situations involving poorly-understood epidemic disease.”

The DRC outbreak of the deadly disease is now the second-worst in history – as of Monday, there were a total of 907 cases, 841 of whom were confirmed to have the virus. So far 569 people have died.

The attack on the Katwe centre resulted in the death of one man, believed to be the brother of somebody being treated at the facility, although the circumstances surrounding the tragedy remain unclear.

Both centres have now reopened, but are being run by the DRC’s Ministry of Health in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Speaking after the Katwe attack, the DRC’s health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said all those responding to the crisis were aware that the security situation in the region, notably the presence of numerous armed rival militia groups, would be a factor which would make the work of the teams more difficult.

However, what was notable in the situation of the town of Butembo was that the violence shown to the medical teams had come not from armed groups but from the community itself, he said.

His words echoed those of Julie Lobali, a nurse working in Mbandaka, a port city on the Congo River in the north-west of the country, who told the MedicalXpress website in May 2018: “Some sick people believe that the Ebola epidemic comes from sorcery – they refuse to be treated and prefer to pray.”

Speaking on Thursday, Dr Joanne Liu, International President of MSF, said health agencies were failing to get the upper hand on the outbreak.

She said: “We have a striking contradiction: on the one hand a rapid and large outbreak response with new medical tools such as vaccines and treatments that show promising outcomes when people come early – and on the other hand, people with Ebola are dying in their communities, and do no WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told “Alongside the response in the country, WHO and many other partners are working together to focus on community engagement to help end this outbreak. Successful community engagement is critical to stop transmission.

“As part of this effort, US CDC social and behavioural scientists are working closely with IFRC volunteers who are engaging and educating DRC community members about Ebola and gathering information on individuals’ beliefs, observations, questions, and suggestions about combating Ebola.

“Overarching themes from community feedback include: ongoing frustration that the outbreak is still occurring and questions around why the epidemic has not ended, misconceptions about the safety of emergency treatment centres (ETCs), questions about why more women are being affected by Ebola, high interest in receiving vaccinations and the desire to receive more information and updates on the epidemic.” t trust the Ebola response enough to come forward.”

Dr Ghebreyesus said: “These are not attacks BY the community, they are attacks ON the community.

“There are elements who are exploiting the desperation of the situation for their own purposes.

“The people of Katwa and Butembo, as in the other communities affected by Ebola, want and deserve a place to receive care and a chance of survival.

“They do not deserve to suffer in their homes while infecting their loved ones, they do not deserve to suffer in inadequately resourced health centers while infecting health workers.”

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