International Medical Corps helps to end West African Ebola outbreak
In March of 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) documented several initial cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever flaring up in southeastern Guinea. In mere months, the infectious disease spread quickly to the nearby populations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus impacted citizens and health care workers from ten different countries, but the heaviest effects were felt in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) reports here for more detailed information.
The ongoing situation is now recorded as the most lethal spread of the virus ever, and has claimed five times more human lives than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. 19 months after the initial WHO reports, over 28,000 people have been affected, with an estimated 11,315 fatalities from the disease.
Thankfully, ongoing humanitarian aid and medical efforts have made significant process in culling the spread of Ebola. Sporadic cases have cropped up, but the large scale epidemic has been contained. On November 7th, Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free and Guinea released its last known Ebola patient in November as well.
International Medical Corps has been an integral part of helping to end Ebola transmission in West Africa. The organization operated five treatment units across Sierra Leone and Liberia at the peak of the viral epidemic. The facilities screened some 2,600 people suspected of having the virus and cared for 450 patients – 195 of whom survived the debilitating disease. To staff the facilities, International Medical Corps hired and trained some 1,600 staff members, 90% of them local doctors, nurses, health workers and other staff – all now equipped with the necessary skills to work in and Ebola treatment center or treat other infectious diseases.
And now that the threat of Ebola has greatly diminished in the region, International Medical Corps is now working in partnership with Ministries of Health in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Mali to strengthen health systems and improve the overall level of everyday care and preparedness for infectious disease and future public health crises. Continued medical and psychosocial support has also been provided for survivors and families affected by the disease. Specialists are currently working on outreach in communities – by discussing the myths about Ebola and health care as well as supporting the reintegration of Ebola survivors into society without prejudice.