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.

The Ebola outbreak has devastated communities in West Africa, taken the lives of more than 10,000 people and may have infected over 25,000. We are working with communities to prevent new hotspots from emerging and to help them recover.

The disease now appears to be under control in Liberia. However new Ebola hotspots continue to emerge in Sierra Leone and Guinea. We cannot stop fighting the Ebola outbreak until there are zero cases in West Africa. 

The crisis is reaching a turning point, and we need to support governments and communities to return to normal while keeping in place measures to protect against Ebola. The outbreak has shattered the affected countries. Economies need to be restarted, jobs and incomes are urgently needed, and health services need to be rebuilt.

Our response

In Sierra Leone and Liberia, our programs have reached more than a million people and have included:

  • providing medical facilities with water, sanitation, and cleaning equipment;
  • training hundreds of community and village health committees to improve awareness and promote referrals and safe burial practices; 
  • training hundreds of volunteers to actively seek out cases door to door, encourage testing and referrals to health facilities, contact ambulances, and help families stay in touch with the progress of loved ones undergoing treatment; and
  • helping communities to get back on their feet post-Ebola, by supporting women’s saving groups to restart their businesses, giving cash support to some of the most vulnerable and providing farmers with tools, seeds and training.

In nearby countries like Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mali, we are working closely with governments on preparedness and prevention measures - work that has included raising awareness through signs, radio broadcasts, and door-to-door campaigns; installation of hand-washing stations and latrines; and distribution of hygiene kits.

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.

Updated 15 May 2015

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