As the Ebola outbreak continues to worsen, Oxfam has joined forces with West African health authorities to combat the spread of the deadly disease.
Almost 3,000 people have died and there are more than 5,000 other suspected and confirmed Ebola cases. People infected with Ebola have a 50 percent chance of survival, and there is no known cure. This week, the UN has called for nearly $1 billion to fund the international response. This crisis is an imminent threat, with infections increasing, but it also has long-lasting implications as healthcare systems, food supplies and other markets are in danger of collapsing.
Even as the Ebola crisis has continued to garner media coverage and international attention, huge gaps in funding, medical expertise, and other resources remain.
Oxfam continues to ramp up our response in partnership with local health authorities and partners. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, we are providing equipment—like protective gear, chlorine, sanitizer, and chemicals for water treatment—to support teams tracing people with Ebola, and providing safe, dignified burials. As poverty-ravished healthcare systems become increasingly overwhelmed with Ebola patients, we are supporting other healthcare providers so they can continue to handle non-Ebola health issues, like malaria and prenatal care.
In Senegal, Guinea Bissau, and Gambia, Oxfam will support the efforts of regional health authorities focusing on the most vulnerable areas, providing gloves, aprons, rubber boots, and face masks to local partners, surveillance teams, and people working in health facilities. We will also train these groups to prepare them to respond to suspected Ebola cases and to educate others in how to prevent it from spreading. Our initial response will include distributing hygiene kits to vulnerable families in Guinea Bissau.
To help prevent the spread of Ebola, Oxfam will help communicate through radio broadcasts about how people can stay healthy, on posters in markets, schools, and other public places, and by supporting health workers who will go door-to-door to educate families.
With continued international attention and new commitments of funding, coordination and other support, there is momentum building to contain Ebola, but as we focus on saving lives now, we must take steps to curb this outbreak’s long term effects.