16 Organizations that are working to end Ebola in West Africa
Waking up everyday to a new, panicked headline about Ebola in the United States can lead us to forget about the heroes in our global community that are committed to combating the virus in West Africa.
In the U.S., I am privileged to have a robust health-care system that is well-equipped to stop the spread of an infectious disease before it starts. The strength and efficiency of the U.S. response has reduced the risk of an outbreak in the country and should have stopped all hysteria. In fact, such hysteria and misplaced attention urges our leaders to prioritize ineffective policy that demoralizes and demeans the true heroes that are helping contain the virus in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
Instead, we need to direct our attention, concern, and support, towards these fearless individuals and organizations treating, preventing, and containing Ebola on the ground in West Africa. Compassionate and brave, these organizations are all carrying out their respective missions in a comprehensive effort to address and end this severe health crisis, for good.
I want to highlight some of these courageous organizations handling the Ebola outbreak holistically and effectively. They deserve our full support and attention.
In the beginning of October, doctors and staff from Samaritan’s Purse delivered 100 tons of protective equipment, including essential supplies of rubber gloves, face masks and disinfectants, to set-up community healthcare centers in Liberia. Samaritan’s Purse’s ongoing efforts in Sierra Leone and Liberia are essential in the efforts to treat and prevent the spread of Ebola.
How Samaritan’s Purse is helping today:
They are reducing transmission rates of Ebola by training health workers to support their local communities through hygiene and medical expertise. In addition, they are building 15 Community Care centers across rural areas in Liberia to provide safe and quality healthcare.
Last Mile Health strongly believes that no one should die because they live too far from a doctor. Their team is working hard to bring medical care and supplies to rural communities in Liberia, by deploying an innovative Frontline Health Worker model that brings services directly to villagers' doorsteps.
How Last Mile Health is helping today:
Last Mile Health believes in tying Ebola response efforts to strengthening Liberia's health systems over the long term. They're helping to support Liberia’s Ministry of Health to help the country emerge from the Ebola crisis with more capacity to face future challenges. In addition, the organization is working with Partners In Health to build the first Ebola Treatment Unit in Grand Gedeh County, which will serve as a regional referral center for the southeast.
In the last week, AfriCare has delivered $180,000 worth of medical equipment to Liberian hospitals serving populations in high-transmission zones. AfriCare’s leaders and team hope to restore the routine health services that have been disrupted by the Ebola epidemic. Working through their office in Bong County, Liberia, AfriCare is reaching hundreds of thousands of Liberians with life-saving information.
How AfriCare is helping today:
The AfriCare team is supplying hundreds of community health workers with simplified leaflets on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Ebola treatment. In addition, the organization has reached 100,000 LIberians and is working hard to increase access to Ebola prevention education and behavior change information across the country.
Doctors Without Borders is leading treatment efforts at the epicenter of Sierra Leone’s outbreak through a 64-bed Ebola treatment center. Not limited to one integral treatment center, Doctors without Borders efforts in Ebola-stricken West Africa have been vast and indispensable. Lauded by President Obama for their “incredible heroism,” Doctors Without Borders volunteers have valiantly taken on this Ebola outbreak on a broad scale.
How Doctors Without Borders is helping today:
Doctors Without Borders staff have treated 1,128 cases of Ebola at their ELWA 3 Ebola care center in Monrovia, Liberia. Employing 270 international, and around 3,000 local staff. The organization operates six Ebola case management centers, providing 600 isolated treatment beds.
The strong-willed team at Project C.U.R.E works around the clock with medical partners to send millions of dollars worth of medical supplies, including 330,000 medical exam gloves which are essential in maintaining safe treatment processes, to West Africa. Project C.U.R.E’s executive director Katie Mabardy, recognizing the core facts of the Ebola outbreak, said, “The sooner we are able to contain the outbreak in Africa, the less risk that it poses to the United States.”
How Project C.U.R.E. is helping today:
Project C.U.R.E. is partnering with generous medical supply companies in the U.S. to procure, package, and ship millions of dollars worth of medical supplies to Liberia and Sierra Leone. On the ground, their team is training local volunteers and health workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone on the proper usage of the medical supplies.
Using the internet as a humanitarian resource, The OpenStreetMap Team’s globally-minded volunteers create online and paper maps, as well as navigation tools to support humanitarian relief efforts on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Information and communication technology are making a huge difference in the response to the current crisis, and the OpenStreetMap Team has provided essential services in geolocation and mapping to “[turn] data into actionable knowledge,” according to their website.
How The OpenStreetMap Team is helping today:
The OpenStreetMap Team’s work supports the response efforts of Doctors Without Borders, WHO, and UNOCHA by mapping towns and villages, and tracking corresponding relief efforts on digital maps. The team has provided aid organizations with the mapping of more than 90,000km of roads, 650,000 buildings, and 20,000 place names in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
Working in the region since 1997, ActionAid’s teams of volunteers in Sierra Leone and Liberia are using their grassroots and community connections and trust to spread valuable public health information.
How ActionAid is helping today:
ActionAid is leading awareness efforts in four Liberian counties, where volunteers are training community leaders and local health workers to conduct door-to-door campaigns. In addition, they are delivering educational materials to children who live in communities with schools shut-down by the Ebola crisis.
UNICEF is on the ground in West Africa, providing a variety of essential services around resource procurement and delivery. UNICEF has gone above and beyond in the fight against Ebola by providing water and sanitation services to affected communities and deploying committed professionals in the fields of health, communication, and sanitation to the region.
How UNICEF is helping today:
UNICEF is launching a new psychosocial training manual to inform Ebola-affected communities on the truths and dangers of Ebola, essential in supporting families and communities battling the virus. UNICEF’s deployed teams are also delivering prevention supplies like soap and gloves to affected countries in partnership with the Ministries of Health in Ebola-affected West African nations.
Utilizing a dedicated and well-established network of health professionals and volunteers, the American Red Cross is providing all-important financial and technical support to the West African countries affected by Ebola. In September, the Red Cross opened its first Ebola treatment center in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Since, they have deployed over 4,000 volunteers to assist prevention efforts, provide psychosocial services, and lead in the management of burial procedures - an extremely important task in ensuring that Ebola does not continue to spread.
How The American Red Cross is helping today:
The Red Cross manages and sets protocol for 97% of burial efforts in Guinea, an important practice in arresting the spread of Ebola. With 5,328 volunteers trained, The American Red Cross is building an army of informed and prepared individuals ready to prevent and treat Ebola.
MAP International has made it their mission to provide West Africa’s valiant healthcare workers with the equipment they need to effectively treat Ebola without the risk of the infection spreading. 27,000 personal protection suits, $10 million dollars in medicine and additional supplies, 113 medical mission packs, have all shipped to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to combat the Ebola outbreak. In the battle against an incurable infectious disease, MAP International recognizes the importance of containment through proper use of quality medical supplies.
Partners In Health is working hard in support of their partners on the ground (Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone) by recruiting volunteers, clinicians, and logistical support. They recognize the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as “a defining global health challenge of our time,” that needs to be addressed through strong partnerships that protect against the spread of Ebola today, and build strong health-care systems for these affected countries moving forward.
How Partners in Health is helping today:
Partners in Health is effectively preparing 800 community health workers to conduct educational and prevention efforts, as well as assist in case detection and contact tracing. Through their partners on the ground, Partners in Health is also leading the first-response and general care at 47 primary health centers in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
At the beginning of the Ebola outbreak, Caritas’ teams of volunteers, originally stationed in the region fighting HIV, turned their focus to eliminating Ebola. Armed with megaphones, soap, bleach, and posters, Caritas’ utilizes effective communication as a game-changing weapon against the spread of Ebola. Partnering with local radio stations and international organizations like UNICEF, the heroes at Caritas are approaching this crisis from all angles.
How Caritas is helping today:
In partnership with the World Food Programme, Caritas is addressing the economic fallout of the Ebola crisis by delivering food to those living in extreme poverty. Caritas’ efforts in Sierra Leone and Liberia also extend to coordinating care for the orphans of the Ebola crisis.
CRS’ response to the Ebola outbreak began immediately and swiftly following news of the first reported case in Guinea. Since then, CRS’ staff of medical experts and volunteers have developed strong partnerships with governments in Sierra Leone. Serving on Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Task Force communications team, CRS is intensifying awareness-raising activities throughout the country. CRS’ work has been far-reaching and indispensable.
How the Catholic Relief Services are helping today:
CRS is partnering with the Liberia National Catholic Health Council to ensure health care workers in 18 health facilities have access to personal protection equipment (PPE). CRS also leads an Ebola informational campaign, distributing posters, flyers, fact sheets, and other materials throughout Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Oxfam International is working in 6 districts in Sierra Leone and ramping up prevention programs in Liberia and Guinea to reduce infection rates. David MacDonald, Oxfam’s Regional Head for Ebola Response, speaking directly to the immediacy of the crisis and the scale of Oxfam’s response, stressed, “Right now infection rates are accelerating and we have no option but to rapidly increase our work.” Oxfam International has done just that, and they are not stopping anytime soon with their community engagement efforts to raise awareness amongst the uninformed.
How Oxfam International is helping today:
Oxfam is focused on supplying water, hygiene equipment, and sanitation services to community care centers in Sierra Leone. Not limiting their relief efforts to direct care, Oxfam has also launched an informational radio program to share information on how to avoid catching Ebola and what to do if the disease enters a community.
Across the West African region, there are 22.3 million people living in areas where Ebola has been contracted. Save the Children’s work in West Africa is concerned with saving at-risk children living in the communities with high-transmission rates while protecting orphans of the Ebola crisis. Focusing on the family unit, Save the Children is teaching Liberians and Sierra Leoneans how to limit their risks, while reducing the effect this global health epidemic is having on the lives of children.
How Save the Children is helping today:
Save the Children is providing psychosocial support to survivors and assisting child welfare committees in referring orphaned children to the appropriate services. Save the Children’s integrated response strategy, focusing on children’s health, protection, education and nutrition, is essential in protecting the next generation of Sierra Leoneans and Liberians.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has consistently been at the forefront of the fight to contain the spread of the Ebola outbreak. Teams of volunteers from the IRC have launched a number of initiatives as part of an overall strategy that is saving lives and limiting risk to individuals living in high-transmission zones in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
How the International Rescue Committee is helping today:
IRC’s programs include training and equipping community health workers with proper supplies, utilizing an “Ebola alert” system to prevent its spread, and contact tracing to limit the virus’s reach. IRC is opening their first treatment center in Liberia to provide medical care to those infected by the Ebola virus.
The scale of the West Africa Ebola Outbreak demands a committed, rational response from all global citizens. I am shifting my focus from panic in the U.S. to stoicism in West Africa, supporting the fearless and willing on the ground in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. These life-saving response efforts, carried out by thousands of heroic relief workers and medical professionals, need our support. Through essential information campaigns, life-saving treatment and care, as well as the provision of necessary equipment and supplies, these organizations are containing the Ebola outbreak. I am confident that the heroes working for these organizations, given the proper institutional and public support, will continue to strive for effective solutions to bring Ebola infection rates to zero.
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