Ebola response

Community health worker Marrion Thomson teaches children how to wash their hands at an Oxfam Hand Washing Point in Congo Town, an area in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam
Community health worker Marrion Thomson teaches children how to wash their hands at an Oxfam Hand Washing Point in Congo Town, an area in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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. 7,000 people have sadly died from the outbreak. The UN target to get 70% of people with Ebola symptoms isolated and treated and 70% deceased safely buried by early December has not been met as cases are still not being identified early enough.

Communities have been torn apart as a result of the disease and many areas have been forced into quarantine. Fear has gripped the region.

Our response

We are supplying water, hygiene equipment and sanitation to treatment and care centers and boosting mass publication about the disease. We are also training front line community health workers and providing them with personal protective clothing.

We are working in in Sierra Leone and Liberia and stepping up our prevention programs in Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Mali. We have started a radio program advising people how to avoid catching Ebola and on what to do if it spreads in their community.

In Sierra Leone we are setting up community centers together with medical agencies in at risk areas. These centers help to identify and isolate people with Ebola rapidly. 

Our work has directly benefitted 1.1 million people to date.

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.

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