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ChildFund responds to Ebola outbreak in West Africa

UPDATE 10 April 2014: ChildFund International has mounted a response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The 3-month intervention will focus on awareness-raising activities and provision of hygiene kits for children and families. Working in collaboration with the National Governments, WHO, MSF and other health-related organisations, this strategy will help to contain the present situation and at the same time serve as a sustainability measure since the knowledge gained will be in the communities for the long run.

UPDATE 7 April 2014: An Ebola outbreak in Guinea has left it battling to contain confirmed cases and halt the spread of one of the world`s most lethal infectious diseases. Its West African neighbours are also concerned. Guinean health authorities have reported 143 suspected cases and 86 deaths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed seven suspected and confirmed cases in Liberia, including four deaths. Sierra Leone is readying itself by stepping up surveillance and calming the public. The epidemic has prompted a large-scale medical response and although no international travel restrictions have yet been placed on the region, neighbouring country Senegal has closed its border with Guinea.

WHO has dispatched protective equipment to medical personnel in the region and is working closely with local authorities and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) to co-ordinate a response to the outbreak. The Guinean president, Alpha Conde, is appealing for calm as public information announcements reassure the population and advise them on how to avoid contact with the virus.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the Ebola virus, a haemorrhagic fever which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and external bleeding. It is believed to be transmitted by bats and has a fatality rate of up to 90%. Ebola can be transmitted to humans from wild animals, and between humans through direct contact including with bodies of people who have died from the virus.

Presently ChildFund operates in all three affected countries and we are watching closely for developments. The National Offices have been provided with detailed information on the virus and have all established contact with their respective Ministries of Health (MoH), WHO offices and other local agencies providing services and monitoring the situation. ChildFund`s work includes health and sanitation projects in these three West African nations. Past experience has shown that containing the spread of the virus is the best defence against it.

In Guinea, ChildFund`s local partners have started awareness-raising campaigns, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, WHO and MSF, to enable people to identify themselves if they have been in contact with affected people. As of Friday, 50 people in the Dabola area had been identified as having made contact with affected people, either by visiting sick relatives or attending funerals of those who have passed away.

The district hospital, in collaboration with MSF and WHO, has set up isolation centres and ChildFund is working with the medical teams to get people to report to the centres. ChildFund Guinea is also working on a proposal to intensify their awareness-raising campaigns, which is presently been done through the use of mobile phones. The campaign will be promoted through school children and teachers in their respective homes and villages. The intervention will also provide sanitation kits for schools targeting children, teachers and staff, as well as the provision of food for those in isolated villages and sanitation kits through UNICEF.

In Sierra Leone, ChildFund is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other local agencies to be ready to contain the situation.

In Liberia, ChildFund has been in contact with the Ministry of Health to receive detailed information of the situation in the country and how best to support the efforts of the government and local agencies.

Further information will be provided as it comes to hand.

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