With the concerted efforts by local health authorities and international aid groups, the cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa have signs of control. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 9 May 2014, there is no increase in the number of confirmed cases in both Guinea and Liberia. However, it would take two to four months to for the outbreak to be entirely contained. Social mobilization and awareness-raising on the identification and prevention of EVD remains the priority need in the affected countries. Enhanced knowledge and awareness on the disease is essential to spare the survivors and their families from social stigma.
Hong Kong Red Cross Actions
The Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) has launched an emergency appeal to the Hong Kong public from 29 April to 12 May 2014 to support the EVD emergency and preparedness operations in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. As of 13 May, HK$92,000 has been received from the Hong Kong public. We thank the public for the generous donations.
Three HKRC volunteer nurses are now working around the clock together with Liberia National Red Cross and the International Red Cross in locations where most confirmed and suspected cases had been found in Liberia. Mr. Walter Leung Wai-yin, arrived in Lofa County boarding Guinea on 2 May. Walter is working with the local emergency response team to conduct community awareness campaigns and psychosocial support activities for staff at Foya District Hospital, where two health workers had died from EVD.
In the meantime, Ms. Carmen Kwok Yuk-lai has been community survey via SMS system in Monterrado County. The survey will not only contribute to contact tracing, but also the analysis of necessary factors on preventing EVD transmission, during the process awareness messages will be disseminated to the community though mobilization of local volunteers.
Ms. Winnie Chow Wai-yee joined the team on 3 May and had since working in Bong County where suspected and probable cases were reported. The focus lies on community awareness campaigns and mobilizing volunteers for psychosocial support services.
Red Cross Actions
The International Red Cross has been seeking HK$15.4 million to reach up to 4.5 million people in Guinea and Liberia with different health activities in both countries. Since early April, a total sum of HK$5.4 million has been released by the International Red Cross as emergency funds in supporting emergency and preparedness operations against EVD outbreak in 6 countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire), covering a population of over 10 million.
Base on the plan of action devised in coordination with the local health authorities, the following activities have been completed in Liberia:
•Contact tracing of suspected cases in Monterrado and Margibi counties;
•Training of more than 100 volunteers on key facts of EVD and basic psychosocial support skills to address stigma, fear and discrimination in communities;
•Intensified social mobilization and awareness raising activities in Lofa, Monterrado, Bong and Nimba;
•Conduct psychosocial support sessions with the staff of Distrct Hospital in Lofa where 2 healthcare workers were died of EVD;
•Procurement of personal protective equipments for protection.
Preparedness and prevention activities are being carried out in neighbouring countries, namely Senegal, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali with the support from the International Red Cross.
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