The deadly Ebola virus has claimed the lives of over 10.000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the USA since the latest outbreak in December 2013.
ACT Alliance members and churches are intensifying their efforts to help people avoid infection and prevent the spread of the disease. In Liberia and Sierra Leone they are training trainers who will play a crucial role in spreading accurate health messages to local people who can spread them further into communities.
Many people are confused by the mixed messages they are receiving and fearful of contact with poorly equipped health systems. By working with trusted church and mosque leaders, the correct prevention messages can get to the people who need protection from the virus. Handwashing with soap and early reporting are two examples.
ACT Alliance members in Liberia and Sierra Leone (including the Churches Council of Sierra Leone) are running this grassroots campaign and advising how to provide safe care to families who are ostracised because of infection. They are distributing some food relief as markets are closed and some communities quarantined. They are also distributing chlorine solution to kill the virus.
Families traditionally look after sick members and it is very difficult for them to not touch loved ones who are infected, making it easy for the virus to spread. The stigma attached to the disease means that some are more likely to keep dying family members at home rather than report them to health officials. People are refusing to sell food and other supplies to infected families, so church members can play a vital role in helping them when no one else will. ACT Alliance members are providing hospital care to those infected by Ebola, most of whom will tragically die within a week of infection.
(Photo: United Methodist Church Sierra Leone, Phileas Jusu)
“Continue to pray for the front line medical staff who are protecting us to the best of their ability and for all persons engaged in attempting to prevent the spread of this virus.” Ebun James-DeKam, Council of Churches in Sierra Leone.
“Ebola Education Helps Fight the Virus and Overcome Panic” written by Ebun James De-Kam clearly outlines CCSL’s very practical approach.