Ahead of major conference today, Plan Ireland urges major investment
It’s now one year since the first confirmed outbreak in the most virulent outbreak of the Ebola disease in history. In the last 12 months, an estimated 9,604 people have died, 23,729 cases have been identified and 16,600 children have been orphaned.
Ahead of an international conference to be held in Brussels today, which will be addressed by Minister for Development Seán Sherlock TD, Plan Ireland has published new research outlining the far-reaching, devastating impact the outbreak has had on two of the worst hit countries (Sierra Leone and Liberia)
Some of the key findings of the research, “Ebola Beyond the Health Emergency”* include:
> 80% of mothers in Sierra Leone and 40% of mothers in Liberia report a lack of maternal health services since the outbreak of Ebola.
> 70% of the communities in Sierra Leone report that children are no longer being vaccinated since the outbreak.
> 90% of people spoken to in both Liberia and Sierra Leone said there had been a reduction in farming compared to the same time the previous year.
> Only 40% of children in Sierra Leone and below 30% of children in Liberia said that studying is taking place while schools are closed.
Speaking from West Africa, Plan Ireland Deputy Regional Director, Damien Queally said;
A year on since the first confirmed cases, we are beginning to get the disease under control. However, there is absolutely no room for complacency, as the recent spike in cases in Sierra Leone has shown.
As the number of new cases drop, what is becoming clearer is the wider societal impact the disease has had.
This new research starkly outlines the overwhelming effect which the disease has had on communities and societies which were already among the poorest on the planet. Crucial, daily activities such as vaccination programmes, maternal care and agricultural production were almost brought to a standstill in some areas during the last year. This has resulted in these areas bring brought to their needs.
As these countries attempt to transition from emergency to recovery, today’s conference needs to commit to delivering a long-term, holistic response. A commitment needs to be made by donors, regional and international actors on integrated, comprehensive strategies that will help these nations re-establish working health, education, commercial and agriculture systems.”
Since the outbreak, Plan has responded in the areas of child protection; food assistance; public health campaigns; and educational programmes directly benefitting 2.5 million people including 1.2 million children.
In 2014, the Irish goverment provided over €18.5 million to the affected countries in West Africa.
Plan Ireland CEO, David Dalton said; “Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia need to be strengthened on a long-term basis to deal with the aftermath of Ebola. Robust health and schooling needs to be prioritised, and donors can play a crucial role in achieving this.
Plan Ireland has been operated in these countries for decades. We will be there for the long haul and intend to mobilise all available resources to help put these nations back on a more stable footing.”
Ministers from all West African countries and EU Member States as well as other countries closely involved in the fight against Ebola have been invited to attend the Conference.
About the research
*To explore the wider impact of Ebola on children and local communities, Plan commissioned a qualitative study in late 2014 where a total of 1,836 children (under the age of 18) and adults participated in Sierra Leone and Liberia