Plan International: Decisive Moment in Fight against Ebola as Time Runs Out
CONAKRY-FREETOWN-MONROVIA - The battle against Ebola has entered a decisive moment, says Plan International, as the World Health Organization today declared the outbreak an international public health emergency demanding an “extraordinary” response.
“It is a welcome decision as time is fast running out. We are fighting a very difficult battle with Ebola,” said Dr. Unni Krishnan, Plan’s Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response.
“The impact of Ebola now extends far beyond the boundaries of West Africa. The outbreak is not showing any signs of slowing down. Every available resource must be deployed to save hundreds of thousands of lives that are potentially at risk.”
More than 960 people have died in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak to date. Liberia and Sierra Leone have declared a state of emergency. Seven other countries: Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger remain on high alert.
Plan is responding to the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and has intensified its preparedness and response efforts across the region.
“We have been working flat out on the ground for the past four months in supporting governments to contain the spread of Ebola. Plan alone has dedicated 70 staff for frontline support across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The declaration of an international public health emergency by the WHO will bring focus and hopefully critical resources in turning the tide against the deadly disease,” said Berenger Berehoudougou, Plan’s Regional Manager in West Africa for Disaster Risk Management.
The countries battling Ebola are among the poorest in the world with fragile health systems.
Porous borders have allowed infected people to spread the disease to new locations.
“The Ebola epidemic is a real disaster for Liberia which is still recovering from a long period of civil unrest. Ebola has spread fast in Liberia and is now affecting the capital city Monrovia where one third of the country’s population lives. The deadly disease has ruined many families and communities across the country,” said Koala Oumarou, Plan’s Country Director in Liberia.
Plan has mobilized over half a million US dollars for its Ebola response so far. It is complementing local governments’ efforts, particularly in the area of public health information and providing material support to contain the spread of the disease.
The Ebola response to date has been impacted by inadequate initial assessments and poor capacities of the health systems in the affected nations.
“There has been a gross misjudgment across the board in gauging the severity and scale of the damage that Ebola can unleash. If the international community does not rush to West Africa’s support immediately, we are looking at a dangerous scenario," said Adama Coulibaly, Plan’s Regional Director for Central and West Africa.
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 percent of those infected.
Communities have witnessed horrific scenes of infected people dying with symptoms of severe bleeding. Rumors are also rife on the ground making an already challenging response even more complicated. In some cases, local mobs have attacked health workers forcing emergency centers to close.
(Plan experts are available for media interviews.)
Note to Editors:
- Plan has been working in Guinea since 1989, helping poor children to access their rights to education, health, sanitation, and protection. It has 34,000 sponsored children spread over 65 communities across the country.
- Plan has been working in Sierra Leone since 1976, helping poor children to access their rights to education, health, livelihood, sanitation, and protection. Plan’s programs benefit 700,000 children in 1,126 communities across the country.
- Plan has been working in Liberia since 1982. It works in partnership with the communities and the government to ensure poor children have access to quality education, good health, and adequate sanitation, and that they are well protected. Plan has 12,250 sponsored children spread over 176 communities in its programme areas.
- Grade 3 Emergency under WHO’s Emergency Response Framework is a single or multiple country event with substantial public health consequences that requires a substantial WHO Country Office (WCO) response and / or substantial international WHO response. Organizational and / or external support required by the WCO is substantial.
About Plan International USA
Plan International USA is part of the Plan International Federation, a global organization that works side by side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children and their families. Plan works at the community level to develop customized solutions and ensure long-term sustainability. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities for generations to come and range from clean water and health care programs to education projects and child protection initiatives. For more information, please visit www.PlanUSA.org