Ebola outbreak: Red Cross appeals for more funds

by / Comments Off / 136 View / 5th September 2014

Construction of an isolation facility that will improve the effective treatment of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone has now commenced in earnest, as the Red Cross scales up response to the Ebola outbreak. Red Cross teams in Sierra Leone are constructing a clinic in the town of Kenema as the charity, government authorities and other aid agencies grapple with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The British Red Cross has also recently deployed a logistics delegate to the West African country to help coordinate the flow of aid and transportation, one of eight delegates sent to the region so far.

Ben Webster, the British Red Cross disaster response manager said: “It is not an overstatement to say that this outbreak is stretching our capacity in terms of funding and personnel. We are seeking as much support as possible from the international community, the corporate world and the public.

“Right now we are completing construction of one of Sierra Leone’s much-needed high-quality isolation units, whilst our staff and volunteers for the unit are trained. The isolation unit will allow for earlier referral – easing the overcrowding of ill-equipped hospitals and crucially, helping us save more lives from Ebola,” Webster explained.

Webster said, the charity’s West Africa Ebola Outbreak appeal is currently the least funded, when compared to five others the British Red Cross has launched, including Iraq, South Sudan, Syria as well as the Gaza and Israel appeal.

He added: “Here in the UK, we are looking to recruit clinical staff including nurses with experience in acute-care working in a resource-poor setting. We also need doctors with experience of tropical medicine and of working in infectious disease control or emergency medicine to work in Sierra Leone.

“We know from experience that our health and hygiene promotion work makes a real difference to communities and has already helped curb the spread of Ebola. Our volunteers have done sterling work thus far but more support from expert staff is needed, which is why we are recruiting.”

National Red Cross Societies in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have mobilised and trained 1,800 volunteers to respond to the Ebola outbreak.  Supported by the expert personnel and staff, the volunteers have been actively engaged in numerous activities at community level such as social mobilisation, dead body management and contact tracing. Additionally, a number of specialist British Red Cross workers have been deployed to the region to help support the relief effort.

The current Ebola outbreak, which began in Guinea in March, has a fatality rate of approximately 50 per cent. More than 1,900 people have now died in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. There have been 3,500 confirmed or probable cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. WHO has also warned that the number of people affected by the Ebola virus could rise to 20,000 within the next nine months.

Ebola’s symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding. There is currently no certified cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus, although its further spread can be prevented.