Community health worker Marrion Thomson teaches children how to wash their hands Charities belonging to the UK Disasters Emergency Committee say they have now reached 8 million people in West Africa living with Ebola. This is the latest press release.

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“Member agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee have reached over 8 million people in the fight to tackle the devastating Ebola crisis in west Africa.

Over half a million people have received practical support and 7.5 million people have received vital public health information to keep themselves safe and stop the spread of the disease.

DEC member agencies and their partners have supported over 415,000 people in their homes or health clinics with water, sanitation and hygiene services or supplies.  Partners of the British Red Cross have provided treatment for 143 people infected with Ebola, safely buried over 3,800 bodies of people infected or potentially infected with Ebola and have traced almost 50,000 people who have had contact with Ebola carriers so they could be quarantined, tested or treated. Members have also provided food to over 80,000 people, many of whom are living under quarantine.

Over 35,000 volunteers are getting life safe-messages across through street theatre, house to house information sessions and religious services, and members have also used radio broadcast to share life-saving information about how to avoid catching the disease, how to identify if a loved one might be infected and encouraging those infected to seek early treatment.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said:

“It is heartening to see how DEC members have rapidly increased the scale of their work to urgently prevent the spread of the disease and we are beginning to see some hopeful signs the spread of the disease may be slowing in some areas.”

“For example, the fact that most of the dead bodies in Freetown are now being safely buried shows that we may be starting to turn the corner in preventing the spread of the disease. But we urgently need to provide more support for people living under quarantine and to ensure that everyone who displays symptoms seeks testing and treatment immediately.”

“Public health education will have an enormous impact on the population of Sierra Leone and Liberia where literacy rates are extremely low. We are playing a major role in challenging the myths and the lack of understanding around the disease. And this in turn is helping to save lives and limit the spread of the disease.”

Members are also providing significant support to the already fragile health services struggling to cope with this unprecedented outbreak. This includes training or supplies, including protective equipment, to 6,554 health workers.

Member agencies and their partners have also provided psycho-social support to 4,459 people who have been affected by the devastating consequences of infection.

The work carried out so far has supported more than 4.8 million people in Sierra Leone, more than 1.7 million people in Liberia and more than 1.1 million in Guinea. Members have also reached half a million people in neighbouring countries, including Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.”

The DEC response includes the following activities.

·        Action Aid has given food packages to 3000 people in quarantine in Kailahun and Kenema districts (containing rice, oil, sardines, stock cubes, sugar and salt) through the District Health Management Teams
·        The Red Cross has managed 97% of burials in Guinea
·        CARE has provided 6.600 vulnerable people in Sierra Leone with hygiene kits which include buckets fitted with taps, soap, chlorine and gloves
·        Christian Aid has distributed food and hygiene care kits to 2,100 people in quarantine in Kailahun and Freetown’s Waterloo suburb, in Sierra Leone.
·        Concern have managed the maintenance of 20 burial vehicles in Freetown/Western Areas resulting in near 100% response to dead body alerts.
·        Oxfam is providing hygiene kits including gloves, aprons, buckets soap and chlorine to 16 health centres in Sierra Leone – 11 are in Koinadugu and 5 in Freetown.
·        Plan  distributed food and hygiene kits to 44,219 people in Gueckedou and Macenta with the World Food Programme.
·        Save the Children has trained over 1000 community health agents who have provided advice and education to nearly 80,000 people in Sierra Leone.
·        Tearfund is working with over 1,000 churches to prevent the spread of ebola, reaching over 350,000 people with prevention advice.
·        World Vision has reached 7,500 people in mosques and churches with disease prevention advice and is providing materials to health workers.

The £14m raised so far, including donations from the UK public and £5 million in match funding from the UK Government, will help member agencies rapidly scale up their work.

“I would like to thank the UK public and the Government for their incredible generosity, says Saleh Saeed.  “They have already played a huge part in providing support for people affected by Ebola and preventing the spread of the disease.”