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Simple measures most powerful in the fight against Ebola

UPDATE: On 22 August the World Health Organisation confirmed the Ebola death toll in West Africa had risen to 1,427 (of 2,615 cases), with 77 new deaths reported in the past two days.

As Ebola continues to spread in several western African countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and, recently, Nigeria, simple measures, like hand washing, are proving to be one of the most effective ways to protect children and families from the virus.

In response to this health crisis, ChildFund and its local partner organisations are distributing bleach, hygiene kits and gloves in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia (ChildFund does not have programs in Nigeria). We are also working with local partners in these three countries to increase awareness about how to prevent the spread of the disease.

Our local partner organisations are staffed by community members who are leading the efforts to tell others in their communities about the need for proper hygiene and early medical attention. We have found that neighbours are more likely to listen to their neighbours about how to protect themselves and each other.

In the areas where ChildFund has programs, there are signs that the messages and support delivered by our local partner are reaching their targets.

“In other areas, many people are still in the denial stage about the disease, doubting its killing power,” says Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund`s national director for Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“We are working hard to change this,” says Abimbilla. “Due to intense awareness raising and education, people are now starting to believe that the disease is real and not attributable to witchcraft or other causes. With funding provided for the emergency response, ChildFund`s local partners are working with local health authorities and community leaders to increase awareness on how to prevent the spread of the disease and to provide relief to suffering families as well.”

ChildFund`s response is part of a larger, regional response, in partnership with local and national governments, Oxfam, Care, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and Plan International, to ensure that all activities complement each other.

Watch Foreign Correspondent’s powerful report on how the Ebola outbreak is affecting children and families in Sierra Leone.

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