International agency Oxfam is planning to triple its Ebola prevention program in Sierra Leone and needs at least $18 million to help 2.5 million people at risk of catching the disease.
The agency will be significantly stepping up its water and sanitation supply to Ebola treatment centres and community care centres, supply of hygiene materials and mass public information campaigns.
Oxfam has already helped over half a million people by providing water supplies at treatment and isolation centres, hand washing facilities in community areas, hygiene kits to communities, and personal protective clothing to front line community health workers. The agency has also been training community health workers and running public information campaigns about how people can best protect themselves from catching the disease. David MacDonald, the regional head for Oxfam’s response, said the immediate concern was stopping the spread of the disease.
“The need to break the spread of Ebola is absolutely key. Right now infection rates are accelerating and we have no option but to rapidly increase our work. We work on prevention to stop the disease spreading. We also need to think of the illnesses that are being ignored – treatable illnesses like diarrhoea, malaria and cholera. “Ebola is consuming whole communities. We are seeing them absolutely torn apart as a result of the disease. Many areas have been forced into quarantine – the streets are completely deserted.”
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there could be 1.4 million cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia by 20 January 2015. More than 6,500 people have been infected with Ebola, and over 3,000 have died. The UN says it needs nearly $1.1 billion to stop it spreading and so far only $391 million has been funded.
Oxfam Australia Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said the agency was calling for a concerted international effort to stop Ebola, including civilian personnel and military logistics, and financial support.
“The Australian Government has been generous in its financial response to the Ebola outbreak, contributing $18 million to the emergency, but there is urgent need for further life saving support, including human resources,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“Australia must expedite negotiations to establish medical evacuation agreements with other governments that will enable it to mobilise Australian civilian personnel and military logistics to build and staff vital treatment centres.”
Oxfam works in six districts in Sierra Leone, and are also boosting prevention programmes in six urban areas in Monrovia, Liberia; Senegal; Gambia and Guinea Bissau.
As well as providing the pipes and tanks for the treatment and isolation units, Oxfam will also continue to provide protective equipment like face masks, boots, gloves, chlorine, soap, hand sanitiser, mops and aprons to teams that treat Ebola and teams that bury the dead.
To support Oxfam’s response to this and other humanitarian crises worldwide donate to Oxfam Australia’s International Crisis Fund, by calling 1800 034 034 or visiting
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