Ebola Response Fund: Delivering Assistance to Western Africa

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Posted on 9/11/2014
Medical supplies distribution in Lofa County

As the current Ebola virus outbreak continues to ravage western Africa, ChildFund International is working with governments, global nonprofit organizations and communities to prevent the further spread of the deadly disease.

You can help by making a donation to ChildFund’s Ebola Response Fund, which will help our dedicated staff members on the ground continue social mobilization and community awareness-raising efforts, as well as support national and regional efforts to control and prevent further outbreaks. The ultimate aim is to reduce the number of people sickened and killed by the virus by identifying cases, notifying authorities, and getting the sick to appropriate medical facilities in a timely and responsible manner.

Ebola has infected around 4,200 people in Africa, and as of Sept. 9, resulted in 2,288 known deaths, although the true number is likely much higher, according to the World Health Organization. The spread of Ebola remains most serious in Liberia, where there has been the greatest number of deaths. Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone are also affected. Senegal reported its first Ebola case last week, and officials in The Gambia and other western African countries are keeping close watch for cases, although none had been reported as of Sept. 9.

Families under quarantine in Liberia and Sierra Leone — where infection rates are still on the rise — are difficult to reach with supplies of food and other resources, and Sierra Leone is reporting higher crime rates as a result. On the positive side, regular ChildFund-supported programs are taking place in Guinea, which has seen a slowdown in its infection rate.

ChildFund’s national offices in these countries hold daily information-sharing meetings for their staff members, and soap and water are available at each facility. Non-essential staff members are staying home in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and sponsor visits to West African countries are currently suspended, as are many commercial flights to the region. The U.N. and some military assets are in the process of organizing regular relief flights to and within the region. Sadly, some ChildFund staff members have lost family members during the outbreak.

In Liberia, ChildFund is working with the government and other nongovernmental organizations to spread awareness about the virus, and our staff members there recently delivered supplies from an airlift, including gloves, masks and other protective gear. For many communities, these were the first supplies delivered directly to them. We have also been assisting our partners in setting up specialized direct care treatment facilities.

In Sierra Leone, ChildFund is an active member of the Child Protection Cluster, conducting assessments and registering enrolled and sponsored children and families affected by Ebola, as well as offering psychosocial services at interim care centers established by the Ministry of Social Welfare, with whom we have a strong, long-term relationship.

In Senegal, where only one case has been reported so far, the government and NGOs including ChildFund are focusing on awareness-raising activities and regular radio broadcasts. Many agencies have their regional offices here, as does ChildFund International.

Looking toward the future, the Ebola Response Fund will help ChildFund support local efforts to enhance public awareness about the virus, including how it is transmitted, how to control it, and how to prevent more cases. We also plan to strengthen coordination and communication with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, government ministries, international nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups.

A third focus is to help national government ministries administer psychosocial care to children and families affected by the disease, helping them cope with losses and re-enter their communities after they’ve recovered from Ebola. ChildFund also hopes to train more community health personnel and other first responders to improve early detection and self-reporting of Ebola cases, to avoid an outbreak like this in the future. Finally, we want to create a safe working environment for our staff, local partner organizations and community health workers.