Ebola in West Africa

Ebola, for which there is no cure or vaccine, is one of the most deadly viruses, killing up to 90 percent of those infected. © EC/ECHO, Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA)
Ebola, for which there is no cure or vaccine, is one of the most deadly viruses, killing up to 90 percent of those infected. © EC/ECHO, Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA)

Public Awareness Training and Protective Equipment for Health Workers to Contain Spread

(LWI) – The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more than 140 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The United Nations health agency said at least 230 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola have been recorded in Guinea and Liberia.

Ebola, for which there is no cure or vaccine, is one of the most deadly viruses, killing up to 90 percent of those infected. It causes bleeding and organ failure and spreads through direct contact with infected people. 136 deaths in Guinea and 11 in Liberia have been linked to the disease, which began months ago in the forested villages of southeastern Guinea. The West Africa outbreak is highly unusual as the virus is typically found only in central or eastern Africa.

 “As the incubation period for Ebola can be up to three weeks, it is likely that the Guinean authorities will report new cases in the coming weeks and additional suspected cases may also be identified in neighboring countries,” the WHO said on Tuesday.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member Church in Liberia, together with its partners in the ACT Alliance, are appealing for funds to promote public awareness and provide supportive care for those infected with the virus and isolating them to curtail its spread. Hospital workers urgently need more personal protective equipment such as jackets, gloves and respirators.

 “The (Lutheran) Curran and Phebe Hospitals in Bong and Lofa Counties have set up separate units for would-be patients of the virus, but they also need some basic things to equip such units including beds, detergents, bed pans, soaps and bedding,” said Naomi Ford-Wilson, General Secretary of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. “We also need money to print out jingles/fliers for distribution in target communities.”

The Lutheran Church in Liberia may use staff in Guinea currently implementing an HIV/ AIDs project in the country to access the local population. It also plans to provide Ebola awareness training in neighboring Sierra Leone if the disease spreads.

Last year, the LWF’s Department for Mission and Development (DMD) organized a “Disaster Preparedness and Response Workshop” in Monrovia, Liberia, aimed at equipping member churches to better respond to emergency situations in their local communities, mobilize resources and implement disaster risk reduction measures.

“The workshop helped the Lutheran Church in Liberia in identifying ways in which emergencies arise and are quickly responded to. The knowledge helped us with support from the rest of the Liberia ACT Forum members to intervene in the current outbreak,” said Ford-Wilson.