Our window of opportunity to stop the spread of Ebola

By Oxfam
Sulaiman Banugra prepares to enter the isolation unit at the Ebola Holding Centre in Lakka, Sierra Leone. Oxfam has provided the center with water tanks, pipes and equipment. Photo: Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam

By December, the deadly virus could infect 10,000 people a week—unless we act now.

With a reported death rate of 70 percent, Ebola is ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The World Health Organization has warned that unless the international community steps up to curb the epidemic, West Africa could see as many as 10,000 cases a week by December. The disease has already claimed more than 4,500 lives—by far the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. Ebola stands to erase the economic strides these countries have made in the past few years.

“We simply cannot allow Ebola to cause panic or immobilize us, but must work together to stop it from getting worse. If the resources needed come through quickly we can stop the spread of this virus,” said Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “The US has shown strong leadership thus far, but many of its commitments have yet to translate into action. Other countries have failed to commit critically important troops, doctors, or funding. The speed and scale required for this intervention is simply unprecedented.”

A shortage of nurses and doctors in West Africa has made it difficult to control the spread of this disease. What’s also needed urgently is support from militaries, which can help build treatment centers quickly and assist in other ways, including with flights, engineering, and logistical assistance. In September, the UN called for $1 billion dollars to fight Ebola, but so far only about half that amount has been committed.

Right now Oxfam is helping by providing water and sanitation supplies to Ebola treatment centers and community care centers, and by providing protective clothing for community health workers and burial teams. Oxfam is also supplying more hygiene materials, including soap and bleach in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We are spreading the word on how people can protect themselves from catching the disease through radio, billboards, and text messages.

Providing treatment to those already infected with Ebola is vital, but reducing the spread of the infection is equally important. You can help by making a donation to Oxfam today and signing our petition to #EndEbola

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