An Update on Plan International's Ebola Response Plan in West Africa
“The people who have seen cases of Ebola are really scared,” said Roland Berenger, Plan’s West Africa emergency response manager. ”When you see people dying, bleeding to death, and there is nothing anyone can do, you get scared.”
The Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Liberia continues to claim lives, with the World Health Organization (WHO) describing it as “most challenging.” The combined death toll in two countries – Guinea and Liberia – now stands at 113. In Mali, there are at least nine suspected cases being investigated, and authorities in Ghana have confirmed that a 12-year-old girl suspected with Ebola virus has tested negative.
Public health measures are being put in place across the region, and Guinean authorities have installed health screening procedures at the airport in Conakry. The Ministry of Health in Liberia is asking for support to speed up contact tracing and isolation of suspected cases, and officials have specifically requested Plan’s help to distribute information to the general public. Plan’s response there is focused on radio broadcasts, awareness leaflets, hand washing in schools, and the training of on-the-ground health personnel in preventive measures.
In the midst of the response, one of Plan’s key priorities is also to protect our own staff in affected areas. We are continually reinforcing the importance of prevention and sanitary health protocols as we ramp up response activities.
In addition to health communications messages, Plan is supporting and training government health workers; coordinating with other Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as the Red Cross to disinfect public and household areas; setting up hand washing facilities in schools; and training teachers on the outbreak to increase awareness among schoolchildren.
Given the growing number of countries and people affected by Ebola, our response efforts have also increased. It remains critical that people are given proper information regarding the virus so they keep from getting it in the first place. Once contracted, the disease is almost always fatal, as there is no treatment or cure.