5 ways UNICEF is helping fight Ebola – update

A few months ago we shared a blog post explaining how UNICEF is helping to fight Ebola in affected countries. A lot of progress has been made since then – Liberia recently reached zero cases – so we wanted to update you on all the work that has – and still is – being done.

1. Working with communities

Because communities are at the heart of the response, we have been working closely with them to promote behaviours that help stop the transmission, such as safe burials and handwashing. We engage in dialogue with key members of  communities and conduct massive outreach campaigns, and have been going door-to-door, visiting more than two million households.

We support community care centres, have helped set up rapid intervention kits and trained health workers in Ebola-specific protocols. We also provide water and sanitation to Ebola treatment units.

On 26 April in Sierra Leone, a young girl receives a measles vaccination from a health worker (partially visible), in Helemorie Village in Tonkolili District. The worker, who is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), is from a mobile health team administering vitamin A, deworming tablets, routine vaccinations and nutrition screenings to young children in the village, as part of a nationwide campaign under way to reach up to 1.5 million children under age 5 with vital health interventions. Sierra Leone is among countries in West Africa affected by the worst outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in history, and the still-ongoing crisis has disrupted critical health care and other essential services. The campaign, which began on 24 April, is supported by the European Union, the Government of Canada, the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and UNICEF.
On 26 April in Sierra Leone, a young girl receives a measles vaccination from a health worker. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1149/Bindra

2. Revitalizing non-Ebola health services

While the priority remains to get to zero Ebola cases, we’re also helping revitalize non-Ebola health services. We have provided massive treatment for malaria and are taking part in major measles immunization campaigns.

On 11 March 2015 in Guinea, a teacher uses a UNICEF-provided infrared thermometer to take the temperature of a girl as she enters her classroom, at the Mangalla school, in the town of Guéckédou, Guéckédou Prefecture. Because of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, schools across the country remained closed after the conclusion of the July-August 2014 holidays and finally reopened on 19 January 2015.  UNICEF and partners have worked to help reduce, as much as possible, the risk of EVD transmission. Efforts have included training teachers to implement safety measures, such as daily temperature screenings, and supplying thermometers and handwashing kits for schools.
In Guinea, a teacher uses a UNICEF-provided infrared thermometer to take the temperature of a girl as she enters her classroom. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0568/de Mun

3. Protecting schools

We’ve helped governments put in place measures to minimize the risk of transmission at schools, including temperature taking and handwashing, and helped train teachers in applying these protocols. We have supplied soap and buckets for the vast majority of schools in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On 14 April, a girl washes her hands with water from a covered bucket with a tap before entering a classroom, at St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Freetown, the capital. Hand-washing is part of the strict safety protocols being implemented in all schools across the country, to minimize the risk of Ebola virus disease (EVD) transmission at school. The UNICEF logo is on the bucket. In March/April 2015 in Sierra Leone, as schools across the country prepare to reopen after an eight month closure due to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) crisis, the Government, UNICEF and partners are working to ensure that children remain safe by reducing as much as possible the risk EVD transmission. Schools – which had remained closed across the country after the July-August break – are scheduled to reopen on 14 April, with some 1.8 million students expected to resume their studies. To support students’ return, UNICEF has facilitated the training of 9,000 teachers to implement safety protocols to minimize the risk of transmission at schools, including taking children’s temperatures when they arrive at school and making them wash their hands before entering the classroom. UNICEF is also supporting the distribution of hygiene materials and cleaning equipment to prepare school buildings and to reduce the chance of infections; and is providing 24,300 hand-washing stations (about three per school), as well as 1.8 million school kits and psychosocial support for students. UNICEF is also supporting social mobilization activities to raise awareness, and daily government emergency radio education programmes to allow children to continue learning at home during the Ebola crisis, and has distributed some 17,000 solar radios to children in rural communities.
A girl washes her hands before entering a classroom, at St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Freetown. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0820/Irwin

 4. Improving hygiene and sanitation

We’ve been working to improve hygiene and sanitation, promoting handwashing, and distributing hundreds of thousands of bars of soap as well as buckets with taps. Proper hygiene is key to stopping the transmission of the Ebola virus.

On 28 January, workers carry large buckets and other items that are part of school infection prevention and control (IPC) kits, in a warehouse in Monrovia, the capital. The logos of UNICEF and USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) – which helped fund the kits – are visible on some of the buckets and other items. The kits also contain buckets with faucets, rubber gloves and rubber boots, thermal guns, chlorine and chlorine sprayers, soap, brooms and other items for schools to implement the strict safety protocols that have been developed for the resumption of classes in the context of the Ebola outbreak. UNICEF has procured and is packaging and dispatching more than 7,000 IPC kits to over 4,000 schools in the country. Liberia, with Guinea and Sierra Leone, continues to experience widespread and intense EVD transmission. In late January/early February 2015 in Liberia, as schools prepare to reopen, UNICEF and partners are helping reduce as much as possible the risk of Ebola virus disease (EVD) transmission. Support includes training teachers to implement safety measures, such as daily temperature screenings, and supplying thermometers and hand-washing kits for schools. Because of EVD, public schools in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remained closed after the July–August break, depriving 5 million children of months of education. Amid continued school closures in Liberia and Sierra Leone, UNICEF is working with governments and communities to prepare for their eventual reopening. Schools are scheduled to reopen in Liberia on 16 February.
In January, workers carry large buckets and other items that are part of school infection prevention and control (IPC) kits, in a warehouse in Monrovia. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0193/Ratnam

5. Delivering supplies

We have been delivering supplies that are important for the treatment and care of people who are sick with Ebola, for the protection of health workers and for continued supply of basic services. By mid-April we had delivered about 8,000 metric tonnes by air and sea to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with “required.”