Sierra Leone

Medair launches emergency Ebola response in Sierra Leone

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Medair is collaborating with Lifeline Nehemiah Project, a local community development team, to support quarantined households and to provide community health training in Kontorlah, an eastern suburb of the country’s capital of Freetown.

The area is one of the worst hit by Ebola, and has been identified by the National Ebola Response Centre as an Ebola “hot spot”.

Medair is also setting up an isolation centre in partnership with Lifeline, Oxfam and the local government, providing health care and medicine to people suspected and confirmed of having contracted the virus. Medair will oversee the centre, training and employing people from the community to work in it.

Isolation facilities in Western Area, Sierra Leone have been at maximum capacity for weeks, and in Kontorlah, no isolation beds have been available. The nearest treatment centre is an hour away by car.

“The major need at this time is isolation of suspected and confirmed cases, and effective quarantine measures to break the chain of transmission,” said Dr. Trina Helderman, Medair’s Emergency Response Officer in Sierra Leone. “Sick community members have been returning to their homes, exposing their entire families who are then quarantined in the house with their sick family member. It is essential that if people are in quarantine, they know how to protect themselves.”

Medair is joining Lifeline to support families living in quarantine by providing them with the essentials they need so they do not have to leave their homes. These essentials include:

· additional food supplies to the food rations the World Food Programme provides to quarantine households, including fish, fresh vegetables, sugar, and other items such as firewood to enable cooking
· safe drinking water
· batteries for lights
· phone credit so the household can call for assistance
· oral rehydration salts in the event someone becomes ill
· infection prevention items such as buckets, bleach and rubber gloves, enabling those living with people showing symptoms of the virus to care for them while waiting for the ambulance to take them to the isolation facility

The two agencies are educating families about how the Ebola virus is spread, how to prevent it, how to identify the symptoms and where to seek treatment.

“The local authorities have decided to quarantine households with confirmed cases of Ebola to protect the public, but equally important is that we ensure that quarantined households do not become death traps and a breeding ground for the disease,” said Trina. “We are excited to partner with Lifeline, a well-respected local agency to ensure quality of care. With the training we provide, we want to make sure that families know how to protect themselves should a family member become ill or die during a quarantine period.”

According to the World Health Organisation, as of 10 December 2014, the death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to 6,388, with Sierra Leone overtaking Liberia as the country with the highest number of cases.

For media: For enquiries or interviews, please contact Abigail Woodcock, Press Relations Officer (Medair Switzerland office) +41 (0)21 694 84 72 or +41 (0)78 635 30 95. Lifeline Nehemiah Projects is a part of LifeLine Network International, a network of grassroots community organisations.

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This press release was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.