Ebola is devastating communities in West Africa. It has already killed almost half of the people it has infected. We are stepping up our response to the disease to try to slow down the spread of infection.
The Ebola outbreak started in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and cases have spread to Nigeria and Senegal. Nearly 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola and over 4,800 have sadly died. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there could be as many as 1.4 million people infected with the disease in Sierra Leone and Liberia by mid-January 2015.
Communities have been torn apart as a result of the disease and many areas have been forced into quarantine. Fear has gripped the region.
We are supplying water, hygiene equipment and sanitation to treatment and community care centers and boosting mass publication about the disease. We are also giving personal protective clothing to front line community health workers.
We are working in six districts in Sierra Leone and stepping up our prevention programs in Liberia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau. We have started a radio program advising people how to avoid catching Ebola and on what to do if it spreads in their community.
What is Ebola?
The world has known about the disease since 1976 when two simultaneous outbreaks occurred, one in Sudan and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease takes its name from the Ebola River which runs nearby the village where the second of these outbreaks took place.
While sporadic outbreaks and cases have occurred in places such as Uganda, DRC, South Sudan, and Gabon, the current crisis—hitting several countries at once—is the world’s first Ebola epidemic.
Ebola is spread from one person to another through exchange of bodily fluids, like sweat, saliva and blood. Preventing this chain of transmission is essential for controlling the disease. According to the World Health Organization community engagement is key to raising awareness.