A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
A fast-spreading outbreak of Ebola virus disease is affecting several countries in West Africa. The Ebola virus outbreak, which started since February this year in Guinea, later spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. It continues to cause hardship with over 1,000 cases reported in these countries and the number of cases is expected to increase exponentially. Efforts to stop the ongoing spread and bring the epidemic to an end are gaining in commitment and capacity; however the risk for further spread, both within the affected countries and more widely is also a real possibility and needs to be planned for appropriately.
The virus has continued to spread across borders in West Africa. This is the first time an outbreak of this size is being experienced in West Africa.
To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola virus disease, which kills between 25% and 90% of victims, depending on the strain of the virus. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
Since the confirmation of the Ebola virus disease in Guinea, the IFRC with the National Societies, have developed response strategies, which include supporting the National Societies of the affected countries, countries with a physical border to the affected countries and those who are at risk. With the World Health Organization’s recent announcement of the outbreak as a global health emergency, the world-wide focus on the disease and the steps taken by local and national authorities are likely to increase and to tighten controls and movements around outbreak areas.
The IFRC is providing technical assistance at the regional, zone and global levels, supporting the National Societies not currently affected but at risk. Supporting activities include:
• Preparedness for potential cases to be able to respond rapidly to stop transmission in new areas.
• Preparedness for response through volunteer training in communication around epidemics and behavioural change.
• Supporting Ministries of Health in prevention activities and social mobilisation.
• Pre-positioning personal protective equipment and related training.
• Adaption and dissemination of information, education and communication material linked with community social mobilisation activities.
• Consideration of lessons learned from the Ebola virus disease response to date, to inform the preparedness plans.
The proposed preparedness activities in Cameroon follow the regional response framework’s support to neighbouring at risk National Societies.
Summary of the current response
The National Society has experience in preparing and responding to epidemics. Cholera, yellow fever, malaria and polio are common in Cameroon and the National Society, working as auxiliary to public authorities in the humanitarian field, have been engaged in preparedness and response activities of those epidemics for a number of years.
Cameroon Red Cross works specifically in social mobilisation, conducting advocacy, disinfection and in some cases in the management of dead bodies. For this potential outbreak, the National Society is participating in developing the contingency plan against Ebola virus disease with the Ministry of health and World Health Organisation.
Cameroon Red Cross has alerted all of its branches about Ebola and is working specifically with Douala branch (due to the high risk based on it being a transportation hub) to prepare for an outbreak.
Overview of non-RCRC actors in country
World Health Programme is present in country and has begun conducting capacity building activities alongside the Ministry of Health of health professionals in Douala and prepositioned some personal safety kits. The Ministry of Health’s contingency plan development is ongoing and they are consulting different institutions and actors at the country level to put in preparedness measures.