Responding to the Ebola outbreak

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Responding to the Ebola outbreak

The current Ebola epidemic in west Africa is the largest outbreak of the virus since it was first discovered in 1976. Concern Worldwide is fighting against the spread of the disease in the two worst-affected countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Epicentre of crisis

The number of people diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia skyrocketed from September 2014, making it the epicentre of the crisis in west Africa. Seven months later, following a 28 day period of no newly confirmed cases, Liberia was on the cusp of being declared Ebola free — but hopes have been dashed by the confirmation of a new case in the capital city of Monrovia this March.

Concern Worldwide has reaffirmed its commitment to the emergency response and continues to work towards the eradication of the disease in west Africa.

Concern is responding to the ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Our charity work includes supporting the country’s over-burdened health care system and providing protective equipment like aprons, gloves, and masks to medical workers. Image: Concern Worldwide,

 

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Our charity response

We’ve been working in Sierra Leone and Liberia for decades. Now, we’re drawing on our extensive experience there to educate people about how they can keep themselves safe from Ebola. We’re training healthcare workers, village leaders, traditional healers and birth attendants. We’re also providing clinics with critical supplies and assistance. In October 2014, Concern announced an additional €36 million programme to step up its fight against Ebola.

The safe disposal of dead bodies is critical to breaking the cycle of transmission with up to an estimated 80 percent of Ebola transmissions resulting from contact with dead bodies. In the western area of Sierra Leone, which includes the capital city of Freetown, we are managing a fleet of ten burial teams to ensure safe and dignified burials.

Background

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. The virus has a case fatality rate of up to 90%. Symptoms are non-specific and resemble those of malaria. To date, the Ebola outbreak has seen 3,685 identified cases in the largest ever recorded outbreak of the virus, with frontline health workers and those caring for the infected most at risk.

Deepening crisis

Misconceptions and myths around the virus are adding to the problem by preventing people from following simple safety precautions that could save their lives. Concern’s CEO, Dominic MacSorley, appealed for public support for the organisation’s work. He said:

We need to break the Ebola transmission rate by setting up isolation units, safely disposing of bodies and massively increasing public awareness. We have to prevent this disease from completely unravelling the social, economic and cultural fabric of West African society.  I can’t overestimate enough the urgency of this and I'm appealing to people in Ireland to help make this critical work possible.

In depth

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