Samaritan’s Purse has ramped up its response to the unprecedented Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has already claimed more than 3,300 lives, primarily in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The total number of cases is doubling every three weeks, according to health officials.
On 2 October, 100 tons of protective equipment and supplies arrived in Liberia on a 747 cargo jet chartered and stocked by Samaritan’s Purse. Among the critically needed supplies were rubber gloves, face masks, rubber boots, disinfectants, buckets, and inflatable tents for the set up of Community Care Centres.
Hundreds of Samaritan’s Purse staff are focusing on a new community care initiative in Liberia. In cooperation with national and international strategies, our approach is focusing on the construction and supervision of Community Care Centres in high-transmission areas.
Beginning in Lofa County, near the outbreak’s epicentre along the border with Guinea, we will train Liberians to run 10-bed facilities that provide basic supportive care. Our national and international staff will manage operations. Samaritan’s Purse is prepared to build and manage up to 15 Community Care Centres in rural areas across the country.
As many infected persons may remain outside both treatment units and care centres for various reasons, including a sheer lack of beds, Samaritan’s Purse staff will also offer interim home-based interventions. In an effort to reduce transmission rates, staff will train health workers to provide hygienic, supportive care for infected community members. Along with the trainings, up to 3,000 care kits will be distributed, each of which includes a set of protective clothing, hydration items, disinfectant, and other materials.
“Our efforts are moving in the correct direction,” said Ken Isaacs, Vice President of Programmes and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse. “We are training people to take care of their loved ones, while protecting themselves and their families from infections.”
Critical Education Component
In addition, Samaritan’s Purse will continue its ongoing education campaign to provide infection prevention and control information to the public. Up to 50,000 kits filled with basic hygiene items—such as gloves, soap, buckets, a disinfectant for hand-washing, and a disinfectant for treating drinking water—will be distributed to campaign participants. Our focus will be on educating 300,000 people in high-transmission areas across multiple counties throughout the country.
Samaritan’s Purse has been responding since March to the outbreak in Liberia, where we have had a country office for more than a decade. Through public awareness campaigns earlier in the year, nearly 450,000 individuals were reached with important education about Ebola through August. Thousands more were reached through radio broadcasts.
Since mid-August, a new church-focused campaign has educated over 5,500 religious leaders with congregations totaling over 400,000 members. We continue to respond to invitations from churches, and also mosques, to provide Ebola education and awareness.
Please pray for the people of West Africa, for an end to this disease outbreak, and for our staff as they respond.