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Update from Liberia - 2

With the available funding, ZOA Liberia continues their Ebola prevention in over 400 communities. Relationships with local leaders are encouraging. The communities directly affected by Ebola are grateful for the support, but the effects are devastating.

Whole families who have died leave an empty space in the small towns. Children who survived are looking out for someone who can take care of them. Houses are abandoned and people living in quarantine are depending on family members for necessary food items to survive.

Contact tracing

Last week, ZOA met with the County Health Team (CHT) in Margibi County, one of the counties most affected by Ebola. The County Health Teams in Liberia are responsible for contact tracing of people who have been in contact with Ebola patients.

When a case investigation team determines that a patient is a likely an Ebola patient the people who have been in contact with this person are identified and the lists passed on to contact tracers These contacts need to be monitored for 21 days. When they show any signs of Ebola, the person is immediately referred to the Ebola Treatment Unit for treatment. This is an essential task in preventing the transmission of Ebola in the community.

Logistical and financial support

During this meeting, the CHT shared the many challenges they are facing in their daily work. One of the most important challenges is the lack of logistical and financial support. Due to the difficult circumstances, resources do not always reach the local health teams, as they should.

The direct support from ZOA is therefore highly appreciated by the Margibi CHT. ZOA’s support to the CHTs enables them to do their work. Currently, 2 out of 4 districts receive our support, making it possible to monitor about 1000 contacts. The CHT leaders showed their appreciation and asked if it is possible to expand our support to all 4 districts to enable them to do this difficult but rewarding job in the fight against Ebola.

True picture

This week, there were also some positive signals reported in the newspapers. According to the statistics of international health organizations, there is a possible reduction in incidence of the virus in Liberia since the beginning of October. However, we have to be extremely careful with these results. We must remember that one single Ebola case in Guinea has caused this unprecedented outbreak. There is still a lack of capacity to fully capture the true picture of the situation in Liberia, with a consequence of underreporting of cases.

Another reason to be careful with such news, is that people are cheering to soon, forgetting to take the necessary preventive measures which could lead to renewed increase of Ebola cases. This news comes in time when the rainy season is ending which allows people to travel more easily around the country and the festivities season is starting, bringing people closer together. This can be a very dangerous situation and the efforts to curtail the outbreak are even more important now.

 

Local partners

ZOA is working on Ebola response together with eight civil society actors:

Awareness raising: Development Education Network Liberia (DEN-L), National Adult Education Association of Liberia (NAEAL), Self-Help Initiatives for Sustainable Development (SHIFSD), Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

Social Mobilization: Liberia Scouts Association (LSA), Monrovia Christian Fellowship (MCF), Liberia Ambassadors for Peace (LAP)

Social Mobilization and Hygiene Promotion: Manneka