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Update on Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone

While the spread of the Ebola virus is slowing down in Guinea, since we last reported on the outbreak it has continued to worsen in Sierra Leone and Liberia. A state of emergency has been declared in both countries as leaders work together to address the crisis.

Report from ChildFund Liberia

The Government of Liberia has closed all but three border points with neighbouring countries, as well as the airport. Medical personnel are being affected and dying from the disease. The total number of confirmed cumulative cases is 307 and confirmed deaths 145.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf this week announced a National Action Plan to combat the virus, in partnership with the World Health Organization, with an initial contribution of US$5 million. Among other measures, all schools have been closed, public gatherings are restricted and communities heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak have been quarantined.

Lofa is the most affected county, with some hospitals abandoned by staff for fear of being infected as many health workers have already lost their lives. There has been significant curtailment of NGO staff movements to many parts of the country.

Flights have suspended operations from Liberia, and there is compulsory screening of passengers entering or leaving Liberia at the airport.

ChildFund Liberia and its local partners have from the beginning of the outbreak supported vital community awareness-raising activities reaching over 20,000 people across four districts, provided hygiene and protective materials at schools, hospitals and border crossing checkpoints, recruited and trained health education volunteers, and attended regular emergency coordination meetings.

Report from ChildFund Sierra Leone

The Government of Sierra Leone`s task force reports that between 20 May and 24 July the cumulative Ebola numbers are 360, with confirmed deaths 152 and discharges 116.

Tragically, the only Sierra Leonean specialist Dr Khan died this week as a result of the disease.

The Government has increased allocations toward the setting up of new isolation centres and support for medical personnel. There is a national awareness campaign on steps to be taken to avoid being infected by the virus. This activity is being managed by a task force led by the Ministry of Health. The President has made trips personally to all the affected areas as a morale booster to the staff at the frontline helping to control the disease.

ChildFund Sierra Leone and its local partners have supported community awareness-raising activites in 40 communities across Kailahun and Koinadugu districts, provided hygiene and protective materials for children and families through schools, public health units and local community structures, and trained and equipped health personnel. ChildFund continues to collaborate with the Health Ministry and other INGOs working on the epidemic.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence says: “ChildFund`s Ebola response in West Africa has achieved significant outcomes but it is evident that much more needs to be done as the situation worsens. ChildFund will continue its response in Liberia and Sierra Leone and is currently working to secure further funding to ramp up education and awareness activities within communities, as well as provide additional safety and personal protection kits for children and their families.”

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