You may have seen Oxfam's warning in the news that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will not be contained unless more is done to prevent new infections. Oxfam have the expertise to help contain the disease but funds are desperately needed to make this happen.
Oxfam’s announcement The world has never faced an Ebola epidemic on this scale, and this is likely to be the defining humanitarian crisis of 2014. The situation in the main affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is deteriorating quickly and the trajectory of the crisis in terms of number of people and regions affected is of great concern. The next 2 months will be critical to contain the spread and scale of the crisis, requiring rapid mobilisation of all key actors - including Oxfam. The UN plan, often referred to as the '70, 70, 60 strategy' aims to treat 70% of patients and ensure 70% of burials are safe, within 60 days.
Oxfam's focus is to prevent the spread of the disease. This crisis has devastated Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Families and communities have been torn apart, distrust and fear have spread, parents are afraid to touch their children, and children have been abandoned or left orphaned. The priority at the moment has got to be on scaling up the response to reduce Ebola transmission rates, save lives and reduce suffering. Oxfam are tripling their Ebola prevention programme in Sierra Leone and Liberia and aim to help the 5.7 million people at risk of catching the disease.
So far, Oxfam have helped around 500,000 people by:
- providing water and sanitation facilities, and hygiene materials, to pre-existing healthcare facilities, new small-scale community facilities and larger Ebola Treatment Units;
- support to enable burial and disinfection outreach teams to work effectively;
- support community-level protection measures including mass public information campaigns over radio, billboards and text messages on how people can protect themselves from catching the disease, hand-washing facilities in community areas, and hygiene kits for communities (soap, bleach etc.);
- and ensuring an effective overarching response to the epidemic by highlighting gaps and ensuring that these are addressed.
To stop the infection rate reaching catastrophic levels, Oxfam urgently need to raise £22 million to reach 2.5 million people in Sierra Leone and 1.5 million in Liberia.