While much attention has been paid to the hundreds of medical professionals and volunteers risking their lives to help stop the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, one group is being overlooked: the cleaners.
In a recent interview, Michael Duff, the filmmaker behind the new documentary “Your First Mistake Will Be Your Last”, spoke with HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill about the “critical” roles these cleaners play and their “incredibly risky” job of washing up after fully symptomatic and highly contagious patients.
“[Cleaners] are, in a lot of ways, the backbone of the Ebola response,” Duff said. “We need the doctors, we need nurses and we need the international response; but none of it would be possible at all if it wasn’t for the men and women doing the jobs like cleaning.”
Hassan Sesay, a cleaner at an Ebola isolation clinic in Africa, describes in the documentary the reality of his day-to-day work.
“When [patients] vomit or urinate, we are the ones by their side to clean them. The nurses are the ones that treat them, we clean up after they eat. We clean the mess on the ground,” Sesay says in the film.
Duff shed light on the isolating stigma these cleaners often face.
“A lot of people working in the Ebola treatment centers have been essentially kicked out of their communities. A lot of times their families have left them. They get paid very, very little, often times [going] for weeks and weeks without getting paid anything at all, but they still turn up every day at work,” Duff said.
You can watch a clip of the new documentary above.