8th August 2014
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) today declared the West African Ebola epidemic an “international health emergency” Plan Ireland is continuing to combat the spread of the killer virus across West Africa which has now killed more than 900 people.
The WHO said the outbreak is an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other states and that a coordinated response was needed.
Since the outbreak, Plan has called for a global collective action to stop ebola from becoming a disaster and stressed the need for intensified support from the international community. Plan is responding in the three worst hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Speaking from Senegal where he is co-ordinating Plan Ireland’s response, Damien Queally said:
I am hopeful that today’s announcement by the WHO will intensify the international response to the ebola outbreak.
On the ground, across all three countries, people are scared, desperate and worried. Continued Ebola deaths have increased their fear and feeling of hopelessness, Rumours are also rife on making an already challenging response even more complicated. Many people frightened to go to local health clinics are opting for traditional medicines.
With no effective treatment, raising awareness of the risk factors of ebola infection and the protective measures individuals can take is one of the few ways to reduce human infection and death.
Plan is responding by disseminating public health information and providing material support to contain the spread of the disease. We have printed and distributed thousands of health promotion brochures across infected areas. We are disseminating prevention messages via TV, radio and SMS.We are also training volunteers to disinfect public and household latrines, treating the homes of suspected cases, and setting up hand washing systems in schools and public areas.
The countries battling Ebola are among the poorest in the world and the public health systems across West Africa are fragile. The impacted countries desperately need financial and technical assistance to avoid a catastrophic situation.”
Ebola is one of the most virulent diseases known to mankind which spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. There is no vaccine or cure for the disease and it kills up to 90 per cent of those infected.